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 are now piloting these proposals with a wider group of pharmacists and pharmacy technicians so that we can better understand their impact. We launched the pilot in April 2016 and it will run through to December 2016.
During the pilot participants, who are excluded from CPD record calls for the next two years, have been asked to:
- record four CPD entries in a new, simplified recording format
- carry out and record a peer discussion
- produce a case study of a change to practice that has benefited patients or service users
From August 2016 we will be making contact with volunteers to start evaluating how things are working. In January 2017 we will start collating the information we have received and use it to form the basis of consultation proposals which would
Update - we have reached our quota for pilot volunteers and are no longer recruiting new participants.
Continuing Fitness to Practise
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 case study on a change to practice for the benefit of patients or service users (which we are exploring for impact and feasibility). We are currently piloting these proposed activities with 1000 volunteers and what we learn through the pilot will help shape our work and any future requirements we may set.
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. Last year we undertook some research and testing of options. We learnt that we can do more to encourage reflection on learning and practice in some innovative ways and are now in a position to pilot these with a wider group of volunteer pharmacy professionals.
We will be using these principles as we continue to develop our approach to further assure standards.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
Broadly speaking, we will carry out these activities in the next four business years:
- 2015/16 - testing and research
- 2016/17 - piloting and evaluation
- 2017/18 - consultation and preparation
- 2018 - implementation and evaluation
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.
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 of conduct, ethics and performance are central to continuing registration.
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.
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.
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 case studies in 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 email@example.com.
If you would like to know more you can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
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. As we move closer to testing and piloting we will be seeking input from 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.
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.
(Copies of the Council papers can be accessed via the ‘About Us’ section of our website)