The Francis report: the position of the General Pharmaceutical Council


Our work as the pharmacy regulator is all about ‘upholding standards and public trust in pharmacy’. The terrible things that happened at Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust between 2005 and 2009 have done great damage to public trust in the systems for ensuring the safety of patients. As the pharmacy regulator we recognise our share of responsibility for making sure that public trust is re-built on firm foundations and that standards – in pharmacy in our case – are assured.


The GPhC Council, which directs and oversees all our work, has therefore decided that we should embrace the recommendations in Robert Francis’s report which relate to our work. Many of the themes in the report are timely and very relevant to current issues in pharmacy and pharmacy regulation, whether in hospital or community pharmacy or a wide range of other settings.


We already have an explicit agenda to regulate pharmacy purposefully:

  • to promote and encourage professionalism in pharmacy
  • to place clear and enforceable responsibilities on the organisations, companies and individuals owning and running registered pharmacies to safeguard the health, safety and wellbeing of people using pharmacy services, and
  • to ensure that the organisational, cultural and physical environment in registered pharmacies support and enable the professionals working there to behave in ways the public expects of compassionate, responsible and accountable health professionals.


We have an ambitious programme of work in place which incorporates many of the relevant themes highlighted in the Francis report. We have identified six topics we need to focus on as we continue to develop our work programme:

  • enabling the voice of patients and carers to be heard in pharmacy and in the regulation of pharmacy, including making better use of existing resources like records of patient stories
  • improving our own use of information and making information about pharmacy regulation more transparent and useful both for patients and for everyone else with responsibilities in the system
  • making sure we do all we can to promote openness and honesty with patients and families on the part of both pharmacy owners and individual pharmacy professionals
  • enabling people, including patients and people working within pharmacy, to raise concerns about safety and standards of care so that these can be fully and openly addressed
  • continuing to use regulation to engender an open, accountable and just culture within pharmacy, in which professionalism can flourish
  • working proactively – both ourselves and with other organisations - to identify and tackle issues of concern.


Our Council have asked us to report back to them in September so they can check we are doing this. In addition, the Council will consider a further report in September addressing in more detail each of the recommendations in the report of particular relevance to our work.