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GPhC responds to BBC Inside Out

Following the airing of BBC Inside Out's programme, "Boots: Pharmacists Under Pressure" on 8 January 2018, the GPhC has released a statement 

Duncan Rudkin, Chief Executive, General Pharmaceutical Council said:

“First and foremost, our sympathies go out to the families featured in the programme who lost their loved ones as a result of dispensing errors. I can assure them that we investigate all concerns raised with us, including any incident in which a patient is harmed by a dispensing error, and our focus is always on making sure that actions are taken to help prevent a similar error happening again.

“We have already carried out a robust and thorough investigation into all of the concerns raised by Mr Lawton and looked at evidence from a full range of sources, including evidence provided by Mr Lawton and from senior management at Boots, and our own regulatory activities. After carefully reviewing all the available evidence, we concluded that there was not sufficient evidence overall to suggest a risk to patient safety across the organisation. But we did use what we learnt through that investigation into Mr Lawton’s concerns, to inform the questions we now ask during inspections to help us make judgements on whether the pharmacy is meeting all of the standards, including in relation to staffing.

“We take the clear view that setting the right staffing levels is best done by the people responsible for managing a pharmacy on the ground, rather than by the regulator at a distance.  It’s our role to provide assurance to the public that standards are met. If they are not, we take steps to ensure the necessary improvements are made. The staffing levels needed to provide safe and effective services will vary significantly between pharmacies depending on the context in which each individual pharmacy is operating, including for example the services it provides and the number of prescriptions it dispenses. Later this year we will be publishing new guidance for pharmacy owners that emphasises what they are expected to do to make sure they have a safe and effective pharmacy team in every pharmacy.

“It is concerning that some pharmacy professionals are reporting they don’t feel able to raise concerns about pressures.  We make clear to pharmacy owners in our standards that there must be a culture of openness, honesty and learning across all of their pharmacies. Employers, employees, the representative bodies, the unions and we as the regulator all need to work together to make sure that everyone working in pharmacy feels able to raise concerns, so that  action can be taken where necessary and we can make sure that patients and the public receive safe and effective care.”