What the Fitness to Practice Committee does

If a concern is referred to the Fitness to Practise Committee, it must decide whether a pharmacy professional is fit to practise. 

The Fitness to Practise Committee operates, and makes decisions, independently of us. It’s accountable for the decisions it makes. The committee usually holds meetings in public.

What does the Fitness to Practise Committee do?

The Fitness to Practise Committee uses guidance published by the General Pharmaceutical Council when considering cases.

If a case is referred to the committee, there’ll usually be a hearing. The hearing is held by a panel of three people: a chair, a registered pharmacy professional and a non-pharmacy professional (lay member). 

A committee secretary and case presenter will be present and, in some cases, a legal adviser, a clinical adviser, any witnesses, the pharmacy professional who has had an allegation made about them and any representatives they have. The Fitness to Practise Committee listens to evidence and decides whether a pharmacy professional’s fitness to practise is impaired.

In most cases, hearings will be held in public. A hearing may be held completely or partly in private if the committee is satisfied that the pharmacy professional’s interests outweigh the public interest in holding the hearing, or part of the hearing, in public.

If the hearing is about the health of the registered pharmacy professional, the Fitness to Practise Committee must hold it in private. The committee must also hold cases that may lead to an interim order – suspending a pharmacy professional from practising or restricting their practice in some way while the investigation is ongoing – in private. If the public interest in the case outweighs the interests of the pharmacy professional concerned, then a hearing may be held in public. 

Find out more about the Fitness to Practice Committee and its members.

What action can the Fitness to Practise Committee take? 

If the committee decides a pharmacy professional’s fitness to practise is impaired, it can:

  • issue a warning
  • put agreements in place with the pharmacy professional (undertakings) regarding their future practice
  • impose conditions on the pharmacy professional’s practice
  • suspend the pharmacy professional from practising
  • remove the pharmacy professional from the register in the most serious cases

You can find out more about the outcomes the committee can impose in this document. Outcomes can include undertakings and conditions.

How does the Fitness to Practise Committee make its decision?

During a hearing the committee follows a three-stage process before it reaches a decision on the appropriate outcome. Once the committee has heard the evidence, it must decide whether:

  • the alleged facts have been found proved
  • the pharmacy professional’s fitness to practise is impaired
  • any action should be taken against the pharmacy professional

In a hearing, the alleged facts against a pharmacy professional have to be proved. The standard of proof we use is called the ‘balance of probabilities'. This means that the committee will find an alleged fact ‘proved’ if it decides, after hearing the evidence, that it’s more likely than not to have happened. This is not the same as the ‘standard of proof’ used in a criminal court, where you have to be sure something happened.

Explaining the decision

Once a committee has made a decision, it will give a formal statement, known as a ‘determination’, announcing its decision and explaining the reasons for it. 

You can see public determinations from recent cases on our Hearings page. The determination will also be added to the person’s register entry. 

You can find out what information we may make available in our publication and disclosure policy.

What happens next? 


The pharmacy professional may want to challenge the decision by lodging an appeal at the High Court. The pharmacy professional has 28 days to make an appeal against the decision. Any outcomes will come into force after that 28-day appeal period, or after any appeal has been determined.

The Fitness to Practise Committee may also impose ‘interim measures’ for that 28-day appeal period if it feels they’re necessary to protect the public or are in the interest of the public or the pharmacy professional.  Any interim measures will take effect immediately. If the pharmacy professional appeals against the decision, the interim measures will stay in force until that appeal is decided.

Review hearings

Once the hearing has ended, there may be a review hearing on another date. This depends on the outcome and circumstances of the case.

We must tell the Professional Standards Authority (PSA), which oversees organisations that register and regulate people working in health and social care, about all decisions made about people’s fitness to practise. The PSA may refer a fitness to practise case to the High Court of Justice in England and Wales, or the Court of Session in Scotland, if they believe that a decision taken by the Fitness to Practise Committee has been unduly lenient and does not protect the public.

The PSA must decide to do this within 40 days of the hearing and confirm their decision by writing to the pharmacy professional involved and us. The 40 days is in addition to the pharmacy professional’s appeal period.

I’m a pharmacy professional who is being investigated. How will you communicate with me? 

If a concern about your fitness to practise is referred to the Fitness to Practise Committee, we’ll write to you to explain the process. 

I’ve reported a concern. What do I need to do for the hearing?

You may be required to attend a fitness to practise hearing as a witness, to read out a statement if you’re asked to prepare one, and/or to give evidence by answering questions. See our Being a witness page to find out more about what would be involved. 

We’ll keep you informed of the outcome of the case once the hearing takes place, even if you’re not required to attend.