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(Re)validating change

22 June 2017

There are about five weeks left in our consultation on revalidation, and we have been encouraged by the feedback we are hearing so far both through the consultation survey and in our engagement events.

We have received nearly 1,000 completed consultation surveys, and met with more than 500 pharmacy professionals and members of the public, and it’s clear that there is keen interest in revalidation. That’s a good thing.

But it also seems that some of you are still unsure about what the proposal means for you and how it will affect your practice, which may be causing some trepidation. Such trepidation is almost inevitable when faced with significant change, but we want to do what we can, both during the consultation and beyond, to answer people’s questions and hopefully allay any fears.

Some of the feedback we’ve been hearing has to do with process: “Who is the right person to be my peer and how do I find them?”, or “I don’t work with patients so does this mean I cannot revalidate?”, or “What does this mean for me when I next renew my registration?”. Some of you are thinking about the kind of revalidation required of other health professionals and are asking “How is this comparable with the expectations of doctors, nurses and midwives?”.

I want to take a moment therefore, to (hopefully) demystify our proposal and signpost some of the resources that may help you understand what we’re trying to do in introducing revalidation and, more importantly, how it could benefit you as a professional.

This proposal and the introduction of revalidation represent a significant change in how we relate to you as a regulator, so we need to hear from pharmacists and pharmacy technicians through the consultation survey. Equally important, however, we want your informed feedback to make sure that what we are proposing actually works in practice.

We start from a basic premise: that in order to maintain the standards of practice, it is important for you to be aware of changes in the profession that could impact the care you provide. This goes beyond knowledge and skills, and encompasses the expectations the public and other healthcare professionals may place on you.

You are probably aware that we have already done a great deal of work on this. Over the past three years, we’ve spoken with your colleagues and peers, other members of the profession, and the public about what they expect from pharmacy professionals in terms of the care they provide and, importantly, how to ensure and assure that their knowledge and skills remain up-to-date.

What we heard is that exhaustive record keeping and ‘tick-box’ exercises no longer fit the bill; and that, perhaps, we needed to look at different ways to record activities (and different kinds of activities) in order to show real improvement and provide meaningful reassurance to the public.

The revalidation proposal outlines a scheme that encourages more reflection on your practice and, importantly, on how you are embedding the standards for pharmacy professionals in your work. Among the changes we are proposing: reducing the number of CPD records we require you to submit from nine to four; asking you to conduct and record a peer discussion with a colleague or someone who understands your work; and asking that you write a reflective account detailing how you are meeting one or more of the standards for pharmacy professionals. We are also proposing that, rather than ‘calling’ records periodically for review, we would require them to be submitted annually; but randomly select a small sample (about 2.5 per cent) for review.

Our consultation document explains in detail how we developed the revalidation proposals. The accompanying FAQ answers most questions we have encountered since we started this work three years ago. If you haven’t already done so, I would encourage you to have a thorough read of these documents before completing the consultation survey.

We have also scheduled a webinar for 27 June, which will provide an overview of the consultation and give you another opportunity to weigh in with your views and questions. The webinar will be hosted by Hugh Simpson, our Director of Strategy, and Osama Ammar, who has led this work since we started it three years ago. 

Finally, today we are launching a video with testimonials from two of the volunteers from our pilot that ran in 2016. These pharmacy professionals provide a first-person perspective on peer discussions, reflective accounts and, in general, the impact these activities had on their practise.

We appreciate that change can be unsettling but we hope that, through working closely with all those affected, we can make this a positive change for everyone. The changes facing our profession, in the roles of pharmacists and pharmacy technicians; and in the expectations the public has for them, are well underway. It’s important, therefore, that we adapt to this new landscape by changing how we regulate; and that you, as professionals, begin to consider new ways for assuring that the trust the public places in you remains steadfast and underpinned by evidence.