Guidance for pharmacy professionals facing a concern

We know it can be stressful and worrying if a concern is raised about you, or if you think you might have to declare an issue that could affect your fitness to practise.  

It can be helpful to understand more about the process and the support available to you.

It’s important we support pharmacy professionals to achieve the standards required by giving them an opportunity to put things right and learn and improve when it’s right to do so.

Reviewing concerns

When we receive a concern or self-declaration, we carefully review the information in line with our standards and guidance, and current legislation.

Occasionally, we’ll need to ask people who are involved in the case for further information. We might also need to make some initial enquiries before deciding whether the concern received should be closed or referred on for an investigation.

How we investigate fitness to practise concerns

If the information we receive from a concern or declaration raises concerns about a pharmacy professional’s fitness to practise, we’ll make enquiries, and might start an investigation. We’ll check that the pharmacy professional can demonstrate the skills, knowledge, character and health needed to do their job safely and effectively.

We may also carry out an investigation if one of our inspectors identifies a concern about a pharmacy professional during a visit to a pharmacy.

During an investigation, we may:

  • provide pharmacy professionals with a copy of the concern raised about them and ask for a response
  • arrange a visit to their pharmacy to get evidence, take witness statements and provide informal advice
  • ask them to undergo an assessment of their understanding of English.

If we receive information raising a concern about the pharmacy professional’s health, we may ask:

  • for further information about their health
  • for information from their doctor
  • them to undergo a medical examination

We aim to complete our investigations in less than a year of receiving a concern and provide updates on the progress of our investigation every two months.

What happens once we’ve carried out an investigation

When we’ve finished our investigation, we’ll review all the available evidence and consider what action to take. All cases are assessed against our threshold criteria which we use to decide whether to refer the case to the Investigating Committee or Fitness to Practise Committee.

If the concern isn’t referred to one of our committees, then we’ll not take any further action. But, if appropriate, we’ll give you some informal advice on how you can improve your practice in the future.

Working together

If the concern is about a health or performance matter, we may ask you to work in partnership with us to manage the issue. This is called a voluntary agreement

We’ll keep a record that a concern has been received about you and this information may be used if any further concerns are raised about you in the future.

If it’s necessary to refer your concern to the Investigating Committee or the Fitness to Practise Committee, we’ll notify you and provide more information about the next stages.

Interim orders

If we receive a concern where a pharmacy professional’s behaviour or practise presents a serious risk to patient safety, or if they have a health condition which means they’re a risk to themselves or the public, we can apply to the Fitness to Practise Committee for an interim order.

The pharmacy professional’s registration will be suspended while we carry out our investigation, or they’ll have to follow set conditions, such as having a workplace supervisor.

Sharing information about concerns

You can find out what information we may make available about concerns in the investigation stage in our publication and disclosure policy.

If appropriate, we share information about concerns with other organisations, such as NHS England, Care Quality Commission, Disclosure and Barring Service (in England and Wales), Disclosure Scotland or other regulators.