The Professional Standards Authority (PSA) has published its review of the General Pharmaceutical Council’s (GPhC’s) performance against the PSA’s Standards of Good Regulation in 2018/19.
The PSA found that the GPhC met 20 out of 24 of the Standards of Good Regulation in 2018/19, including all of the standards relating to guidance and standards, education and training and registration.
For 2018/19, the PSA decided to carry out a targeted review of Standard 3 (Registration) and Standards 3, 5, 6, 7 and 8 (Fitness to Practise). The PSA also carried out an audit of 63 fitness to practise cases closed by the GPhC between 1 March 2018 and 28 February 2019.
Following this targeted review and audit, the PSA identified four out of ten of the fitness to practise standards were not met. Although the PSA did not consider that the concerns assessed through the audit had resulted in incorrect decisions being made, the PSA report highlights several areas requiring improvement. These areas included:
- improving record-keeping about fitness to practise cases
- updating internal guidance on triaging cases, including our approach to issuing pre-investigating committee undertakings or informal guidance and warnings to pharmacy professionals
- improving timeliness in progressing fitness to practise cases
- improving communications with people involved in cases
- improving reasoning for decisions at each stage
GPhC action plan
In response, the GPhC has published an action plan setting out the improvements it is making to its fitness to practise procedures, many of which GPhC had already identified as priorities for 2019/20. The action plan sets out each area of concern identified by the PSA along with the GPhC’s response and expected timescales. Key actions being taken include:
- updating internal guidance on triaging cases, including the approach to issuing undertakings or warnings to pharmacy professionals, and making sure that guidance is consistently followed
- an ongoing programme of training and development of staff to help improve timeliness of fitness to practise cases and communications with complainants and pharmacy professionals
- introducing peer review and quality assurance of decisions to take no further action at triage
GPhC Chief Executive Duncan Rudkin said:
“We are committed to using this feedback from the PSA to reflect, learn and work together so that we take forward the changes and improvements needed.
“We agree with the PSA’s assessment that we need to make improvements in some areas of our Fitness to Practise processes. We have put in place an action plan to make sure that these improvements are taken forward as a priority and embedded over the longer term. We will regularly review our progress against the action plan and report on this to our Council.
“We will also shortly begin a consultation on our Fitness to Practise strategy, which will provide an opportunity for a fundamental review of our approach to fitness to practise and how it needs to change to make it as proportionate, person-centred and effective as possible. We want to hear from as many individuals and organisations as possible through that consultation.”