Investigating concerns

When we receive a concern about a pharmacy professional, we check whether they’re on our register and determine whether the concern is serious enough to require a full investigation. This helps us to decide what happens next.

We only investigate concerns about pharmacists, pharmacy technicians or pharmacies where patient safety could be at risk or public confidence in pharmacy could be affected.

If someone raises a concern about a pharmacy professional that could affect patient safety or seriously damage public confidence in using pharmacy services, we’ll can act on it straight away. 

Our approach to managing concerns assesses whether pharmacy professionals are ‘fit to practise’. Being fit to practise means a pharmacy professional has the skills, knowledge, health and character to do their job safely and effectively. They must also act professionally and meet the principles of good practice set out in our various standards and guidance.

If we need to take a concern further, we’ll start an investigation. This will usually be led by a case officer. 

We have to prioritise concerns where there may be a risk to patient safety or where public confidence in pharmacy could be affected. We may close the concern at this point if it isn’t within our remit to deal with. If this is the case, we’ll point people to other organisations.

What happens after an investigation?

Following the investigation, we may decide to: 

  • take no further action
  • send a letter to the pharmacy professional with guidance on how they should practise in future
  • enter into a voluntary agreement with the pharmacy professional so that we can monitor their ongoing health issues to make sure that they continue to practise safely
  • recommend that the evidence is considered by the Investigating Committee
  • refer the case directly to the Fitness to Practise Committee if it’s a serious concern

Making decisions about serious concerns

If we decide there is evidence to show a pharmacy professional’s fitness to practise has been affected, the case is likely to be heard by a committee.

We have two committees that make decisions about cases: the Investigating Committee and the Fitness to Practise Committee. Any decisions the committees make could lead to sanctions being imposed on a pharmacy professional’s registration. This includes being suspended or removed from the register.

What the Investigating Committee does

The Investigating Committee can decide to close a case with no further action or close it after giving advice or a warning to the pharmacy professional. The committee can also put agreements in place with the pharmacy professional or refer the case to the Fitness to Practise Committee for a full hearing. 

Find out more about the work of the committee in the box below.

What the Fitness to Practise Committee does

If the Fitness to Practise Committee decides the pharmacy professional is not fit to practise, it can issue advice or a warning, set conditions that limit how they can practise, suspend them or remove them from the register.

The Fitness to Practise Committee usually holds hearings in public. Find out more about the work of the committee in the box below.