Responding to challenges and looking to the future

16 February 2022

It has been a tough two years for everyone working in pharmacy. For pharmacy teams and owners, there have been increased work pressures added to potential personal difficulties that we’ve all had to face during the COVID-19 pandemic. I would like to say thank you for all those who have worked so hard and are still doing so during these challenging times.

With the closure of the provisional register on 31 January, I’d like to take this opportunity to personally thank the 4,799 provisionally-registered pharmacists who have used the scheme in order to support NHS services and provide patient care when it was most needed. Professional leadership and representative bodies, education and training organisations and employers all worked together to support provisionally-registered pharmacists to provide safe and effective care to patients.

One area where we’ve experienced particular challenges during the pandemic is in our fitness to practise function. During the pandemic, we received high numbers of concerns, could not progress investigations as quickly as usual and had to rapidly move to remote hearings. Some of the improvements we had planned to make to how we manage concerns about pharmacy professionals started later than anticipated because we needed to respond quickly and effectively to the challenges and pressures of the pandemic.

As we highlighted in our response to the Professional Standards Authority’s recent performance review, it is a key priority for us to make improvements in our fitness to practise processes, to meet the concerns of the public and patients, to ensure fairness to registrants, and to meet the Standards of the PSA.

Looking to the future, I can say that we have clear strategies and plans in place to help us achieve our Vision 2030 of safe and effective pharmacy care at the heart of healthier communities. We’ve learnt how to do things differently and begun making significant improvements to how we regulate.

And to take us forward, we have a new Chair joining the GPhC from March this year.

I’d like to welcome Gisela Abbam to the GPhC. Gisella is bringing her wealth of experience in healthcare to the role. Gisela has worked in collaboration with governments, the World Health Organisation and the United Nations to improve health outcomes for people across the world, and is a former Chair of the British Science Association. I am sure her knowledge and expertise will help the us drive forward our Vision of safe and effective pharmacy care at the heart of healthier communities.