We are consulting on religion, personal values and beliefs in pharmacy practice

We have launched a consultation on religion, personal values and beliefs in delivering person-centred care in pharmacy.   

The consultation asks about the wording on personal values and beliefs in the new standards for pharmacy professionals, due to come into effect in 2017 and about the guidance on the behaviours expected of pharmacy professionals in applying the standards.

The proposals would change the expectations of pharmacy professionals when their religion, personal values or beliefs might, in certain circumstances, impact on their ability to provide services, and shift the balance in favour of the needs and rights of the person in their care. The proposed changes to the standards and guidance were prompted by feedback from the consultation on standards for pharmacy professionals and reflect the relevant legal framework of human rights and equality law.  

The consultation proposes to change the current wording of the examples under standard 1 from the current wording:

  • Recognise their own values and beliefs but do not impose them on other people
  • Tell relevant health professionals, employers or others if their own values or beliefs prevent them from providing care, and refer people to other providers

To the following:

  • Recognise their own values and beliefs but do not impose them on other people [unchanged]
  • Take responsibility for ensuring that person-centred care is not compromised because of personal values and beliefs [revised]

The proposed changes to the underlying guidance make it clear that pharmacy professionals must not discriminate against a person based on their own – or the person’s – religion, personal values or beliefs, or lack of religion or belief, or knowingly put themselves in a position where a person is unable to receive the care or advice they need.           

The draft guidance explains that the most appropriate action depends on the individual needs and circumstances of the person seeking a pharmacy service, and that in some cases a referral to another service provider might not be the right option, or enough, to ensure that person-centred care is not compromised.

The guidance is intended for individual pharmacy professionals, but also recognises the important role of employers in supporting pharmacy professionals and the wider pharmacy team to create a person-centred environment.

Duncan Rudkin, chief executive of the GPhC said: 

“People who use pharmacy services have a right to safe and effective care. The changes we are proposing to our standards and guidance emphasise that pharmacy professionals are responsible for ensuring that person-centred care is not compromised because of their religion, personal values or beliefs.

“We understand the importance of a pharmacy professional’s religion, personal values or beliefs but we want to make sure people can access the advice, care and services they need from a pharmacy, when they need them.

We recognise that this represents a significant change and through this consultation we want to hear as many views as possible about our proposals and what impact they could have on patients and the public, pharmacy professionals and employers.”

The consultation is open until 7 March 2017.