GPhC publishes diversity data of professionals involved in its Fitness to Practise process

The GPhC has today published an initial analysis of diversity data of professionals involved in its Fitness to Practise process in 2021/22, looking specifically at concerns received and investigated, statutory outcomes of closed concerns and progression through the process. 

Our Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) strategy sets out our commitments to use our standards to proactively tackle discrimination and to make regulatory decisions that are demonstrably fair, lawful and free from discrimination and bias.

The analysis focuses on the protected characteristics of age, ethnicity and sex, for all concerns received and closed in 2021/22. The analysis found some statistically significant over and under-representation of some groups at different points in the process, although in many cases this is based on small numbers. 

You can read the headlines of the initial analysis in our slide pack. We’ll also be publishing a full report on the findings later this month.

We recognise that the data is limited to pharmacists at this stage due to the very small number of concerns received about pharmacy technicians. We will be continuing to explore how we report and analyse data on pharmacy technicians, as well as the other protected characteristics that we have started to collect more recently.

The analysis was shared and discussed at our “Racism in Pharmacy: Accountability Counts” virtual roundtable on 10 October, attended by various patient, pharmacy and equality groups, and open to anyone with an interest. This was part of the follow-up actions from our first Racism in Pharmacy event hosted at the end of last year and our Language Barriers and Health Inequalities roundtable last month. 

The publication of the analysis along with the feedback and stakeholder insights from the event will help us to identify next steps.

We have also taken forward a significant amount of other activity to minimise the risk of bias in our regulatory processes, including steps to identify whether referrals are being used as retaliatory measures, launching an anonymous decision-making project at the Investigating Committee stage of our process, developing new sanctions guidance for Fitness to Practise panels to address allegations of racist and other discriminatory behaviours, training our decision-makers on different forms of prejudice, and work to improve the diversity of our statutory committee members. 

You can read about the activity we have completed in year one of our EDI strategy in our end of year report. 

Chair of the GPhC, Gisela Abbam, said: 

“There’s no doubt that racism in pharmacy continues to be an issue and we need to tackle this together and in a sustained way. Our Fitness to Practise processes are one the key mechanisms that we have to hold professionals to account and it’s important that we, as the regulator, are accountable for doing the right thing and making fair decisions. We are grateful to everyone who listened and shared contributions at the event, and for coming together to identify how we can make a difference.”

Chief Executive of the GPhC, Duncan Rudkin, said:

“The publication of our initial analysis is an important first step in helping us understand which factors contribute towards pharmacy professionals being more likely to have a case raised against them, and whether our processes themselves contribute to disproportionate experiences. With the vast majority of concerns to the GPhC coming from the public, there are distinct challenges about how we get to the heart of these issues.

“We are continuing to make changes and improvements to our processes, linked to our EDI and Managing Concerns strategies. We recognise that we have more to do to understand why we are seeing over-representation of certain groups in the concerns we receive and, in some cases, those that go on to be investigated and result in statutory outcomes. The feedback from the event has highlighted some useful areas for further exploration and we’ll be using that to inform our next steps."