Continuing fitness to practise

About the pilot

In 2018, the GPhC plans to introduce new arrangements to further assure that pharmacists and pharmacy technicians meet standards for safe and effective practice throughout their careers.

We have been developing our proposals over the last few years and recently completed a pilot of these proposals with a wider group of pharmacists and pharmacy technicians so that we can better understand their impact. The pilot ran from April 2016 to December 2016 and over 1300 volunteers took part. Pilot participants were asked to record four CPD entries, engage in a peer discussion and provide a reflective account (case study) that related to Standard 3 of the Standards for Pharmacy Professionals.  

Solutions for Public Health (an independent evaluator) is currently preparing a report about the impact of the pilot and the improvements we should consider if we were to take forward our proposals to everyone on our registers. We won't be able to share the final report itself until our Council has had the first opportunity to review it and that is currently planned for early April 2017.

As part of the pilot we also held an online workshop so that pilot participants could express their views about the pilot as it was happening. We asked for feedback on worked well, what doesn't work so well and areas for improvement. The top three ideas related to technology improvements, creating links with external organisations and feedback on issues relating to filling out the form. The report from the online workshop analysis has been shared with Solutions for Public Health and will, alongside all the other evidence we have collected, be considered as part of the independent evaluation of the pilot.

Continuing Fitness to Practise

What are we doing?

Why are we introducing changes?

Principles for further assuring standards for safe and effective practice

How are we doing it?

How long will it take to introduce?

How do we currently provide assurance?

Why do we want to change how we do things?

What happened to ‘revalidation’?

What about the work that has already been done?

The advisory group of pharmacy and patient representatives 

More information

Becoming involved with our work

Supporting documents

GPhC Council decisions

 

What are we doing?

We are developing new ways to further assure the public that pharmacists and pharmacy technicians meet standards for safe and effective practice throughout their careers. The activities we propose pharmacy professionals should do to provide that assurance are:

  • Annual renewal (which already occurs)
  • Undertaking and recording continuing professional development (CPD) (which already occurs but we are considering changing how we do this)
  • A peer discussion (which we are exploring for impact and feasibility)
  • A reflective account (case study) that relates to Standard 3 of the Standards for Pharmacy Professionalse (which we are exploring for impact and feasibility).

We have piloted these proposed activities with over 1300 volunteers and Solutions for Public Health (an independent evaluator) is in the process of evaluating the results.

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Why are we introducing changes?

We know from a number of different sources that members of the public would like to have further assurance that health professionals (including pharmacy professionals) are safe and effective beyond initial registration. To meet this expectation we have been trying to understand what pharmacy professionals already do to maintain and develop their knowledge and skills and how these might be used to provide that further assurance.  In 2015 we undertook some research and testing of options and we learnt that we can do more to encourage reflection on learning and practice in some innovative ways. In 2016, we piloted our proposals with a wider group of volunteer pharmacy professionals.

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Principles for further assuring standards for safe and effective practice

We will be using these principles as we continue to develop our approach to further assure standards.

  1. The primary role of continuing fitness to practise is to reaffirm registrants continue to meet the core standards of conduct, ethics and performance. 
    The framework will seek to have a positive impact on the behaviours and development of professionals and will not pursue a fixed point assessment. Assurance will be based on affirming the core standards for safe and effective pharmacy practice on a continuous basis by driving behaviours toward engagement with professional responsibilities for maintaining and developing professional knowledge and skills through reflection and collaboration.
     
  2. The framework will need to take account of the full range of roles and settings of pharmacy practice and as a result be based upon a common standard and flexible process and evidence requirements. 
    Additional assurance must be received from external sources and be related to a registrant’s current context of practice. This will mean the evidence requirements and processes to record and review this evidence must be flexible to the diversity of roles and settings of pharmacy practice. However, the core standard will be common across all pharmacy professions.
     
  3. The framework will complement and where possible incorporate existing mechanisms provided by organisations within pharmacy that support continuing fitness to practise assurance. 
    We will develop the framework in association with partner organisations and pharmacy bodies working to support the highest professional standards. Some of these organisations already provide continuing fitness to practice related activities that complement the framework’s ambitions and we will seek to align with suitable existing services.
     
  4. Any framework would need to be appropriately tested, piloted and evaluated using robust evaluation criteria including impact assessment of intended and unintended consequences. 
    It will be important that any proposed framework is properly costed taking into account costs to GPhC and the pharmacy sector, including opportunity costs. Testing, piloting and evaluation should be based on robust evaluation criteria which make reference the generic principles agreed by the Department of Health non-medical revalidation working group, November 2008, but also take into account the developing evidence base around already implemented continuing fitness to practise models. Impact assessment must also take into account the full sector of pharmacy and characteristics of the individuals making up the pharmacy professional registers.

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How are we doing it?

Our work to develop the framework will be made up of:

  • communication and engagement - to let our stakeholders know what we are planning, how they can be involved and to listen to their ideas on how to make it work
  • research - to help us understand if and how our current CPD processes need to change and to help us discover what kinds of peer discussion and case studies might be used
  • testing - to help us find out what works for particular pharmacists, pharmacy technicians, employers, commissioners, patients and the public
  • piloting - to help us find out the real impact of our plans over a longer period of time, including costs and benefits
  • consultation - to help us make sure our stakeholders understand our plans when they are closer to finalisation and have an opportunity to tell us what they think.
  • preparation - to make sure our stakeholders have time and all the information they need to prepare once our plans are complete.
  • evaluation - to make sure throughout the development activities and after implementation that we are having the impact we want and can improve over time.

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How long will it take to introduce?

Broadly speaking, our timeframes are as follows:

  • 2015/16 - testing and research
  • 2016/17 - piloting and evaluation
  • 2017/18 - consultation and preparation
  • 2018 - implementation and evaluation

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How do we currently provide assurance?

We currently ask pharmacists and pharmacy technicians to provide an assurance that they are meeting standards for safe and effective practice through a declaration as part of annual renewal . We expect a pharmacist or pharmacy technician who has made this declaration to make sound judgements which place the public’s interests before their own. Unless there is reason to believe that the declaration is false or an allegation is received about a registrant, we accept the declaration on the basis of trust that we hold with the professionals on our register. We also currently require all pharmacy professionals to maintain and develop professional knowledge and skills by undertaking and recording continuing professional development (CPD) activities. We audit CPD records to make sure this happens.

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Why do we want to change how we do things?

We want to meet the expectation from members of the public that health professionals’ registration is further assured beyond initial qualification.  

We want to support a culture of  person-centred professionalism across pharmacy by ensuring our Standards for Pharmacy Professionals are central to continuing registration.

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What happened to ‘revalidation’?

We have been working on the introduction of new arrangements for further assuring standards for safe and effective pharmacy practice for some time, and initially this was called ‘revalidation’ We have decided not to use this term anymore because it was not well understood.

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What about the work that has already been done?

The previous pharmacy regulator, the Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain (RPSGB) started to look at continuing registration assurance for pharmacy professionals with a research programme. When we became the pharmacy regulator, we carried on with this research.

We published the outcomes of the research and convened a task and finish group which considered work undertaken to date and other sources of information to recommend principles for our policy development in this area to our governing council.

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Our advisory group of pharmacy and patient representatives

The advisory group provides expert advice to the GPhC on the development and the design of proposals for continuing registration assurance, including:

  • How we might include CPD, forms of peer discussion and reflective accounts (case studies) in the future
  • How any options might be piloted, tested and evaluated in practice
  • Impact assessment methodology and criteria such as cost, equality and diversity
  • How to ensure it takes into account the views of patients, service users and professionals

The group’s members play a very important role in ensuring that any future arrangements are effective and don’t place a disproportionate burden on pharmacy professionals and their employers.

Corresponding membership of the advisory group remains open and there are a variety of other ways for individuals and organisations to influence what we do and how we do it. If you want to become involved in the development of our CFtP arrangements, please do get in touch with us by emailing cftp@pharmacyregulation.org.

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More information

If you would like to know more you can email us at cftp@pharmacyregulation.org

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Becoming involved with our work

There are lots of ways to be involved in our work. They are as follows:

  • You can stay up to date on our work by subscribing to Regulate
  • Your organisation may wish to become a member of our advisory group.

We have contacted some key organisations about being involved with our work including professional bodies, representatives of employing organisations, training providers, commissioners, patient and public representatives, and the Scottish, Welsh and UK governments. We are evaluating the feedback from our pilot volunteers. Throughout our work we will be seeking the views of our stakeholders through formal and informal consultation. We will keep this page updated with information about the opportunities to be involved.

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Supporting documents:

GPhC Council Discussions

14 November 2013 – Developing a framework for assuring the continuing fitness to practise of pharmacy professionals

Decision: The Council agreed the proposals to develop a CFtP framework.

11 September 2014 – Developing the draft continuing fitness to practise framework

Decision: The Council agreed the revised delivery plan and to the establishment of the CFtP Advisory Group

11 June 2015 – CPD Review Report

The Council noted the content of the ‘GPhC Review of Continuing Professional Development’ report (IFF Research, 18 May 2015)

10 September 2015 – Next steps for CPD call and review

The Council noted the activities for planned improvements to the Call and Review Process.

10 December 2015 – CFtP development – update from research and test phase

The Council noted a summary of outcomes from the research and test phase and approved the terms of reference for the CFtP advisory group including revised principles for CFtP.

10 March 2016 – Continuing Fitness to Practice update and Assurance Group

The Council noted the progress of the development project. Decision: The Council agreed the terms of reference for the assurance group.

8 December 2016 – Sampling CPD records for review: consultation report

The Council noted the analysis of the CPD sampling consultation, discusssed the key areas of feedback and agreed the revised wording following amendment as a result of the consultation.

(Copies of the Council papers can be accessed via the ‘About Us’ section of our website)

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