GPhC launches consultation on draft Standards for Chief Pharmacists

The new draft standards set out the professional responsibilities and describe the knowledge, conduct, and performance required by a Chief Pharmacist (or equivalent) to support their organisation and its staff to deliver safe and effective pharmacy services.

Chief Pharmacists are senior healthcare professionals with a vital leadership role in making sure pharmacy services are delivered safely and effectively. They usually work in hospitals or settings such as care homes, some Integrated Care Boards (ICBs), some ambulance trusts, prisons, and other places where people are lawfully detained. Chief Pharmacists sometimes have other titles such as Director of Pharmacy. 

The draft standards were developed following new legislation which removes the threat of criminal penalties for accidental or unintentional preparation and dispensing errors by pharmacy staff working in hospitals and similar settings. To benefit from the defences the hospital (or relevant setting) must have a Chief Pharmacist (or equivalent) in post, who must be a registered pharmacist with the appropriate skills, training, and experience; and who must meet the Standards for Chief Pharmacists. These defences already apply to pharmacy staff working in registered pharmacies.

The GPhC is seeking views on the draft standards, if there are any settings in which the standards could not be applied or met, and any positive or negative impacts of the proposals. The consultation is open until 16 April 2024.

Developing the new standards is part of a wider programme of work to strengthen pharmacy governance, providing clarity around how pharmacies are organised and managed to help make sure patients and the public continue to receive safe and effective pharmacy care. Further consultations will be held in the future on rules and professional standards for Responsible Pharmacists, and professional standards for Superintendent Pharmacists. 

GPhC Chief Executive Duncan Rudkin said:

“Our draft Standards for Chief Pharmacists will complement our existing standards for all pharmacy professionals, strengthening assurance around these critical roles and empowering pharmacy professionals at a time of great challenge and opportunity for the professions.

“We are committed to listening carefully to all views expressed to make sure that the standards reflect the views and needs of patients and the public, health professionals, the NHS and the wider health sector.” 

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