Pharmacists will not have to record sensitive details of the discussions they have with peers as part of the impending revalidation process, the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) has said.

The regulator acknowledged in a statement today (6 February) that pharmacists could be ‘concerned’ about how reflecting on their errors ‘could [subsequently] be used’ in light of the recent 'difficult and tragic' Dr Hadiza Bawa-Garba case.

GPhC chief executive Duncan Rudkin said: ‘We want to be clear that we will not ask pharmacy professionals or peers to record what was discussed. Instead they will be asked to record how the process of having a peer discussion has benefited their practice.

‘Records should not contain any details that could identify a patient.  We will be producing further information to help pharmacy professionals understand what they are expected to do.’

Why are pharmacists concerned about the implications of the Bawa-Garba case?

Dr Bawa-Garba was struck off by the General Medical Council last month (25 January) after her actions resulted in the death of a six-year-old boy.

It was widely misreported that Dr Bawa-Garba’s e-portfolio reflections had been used in her criminal trial, which resulted in a two-year suspended sentence. However, it was uncovered by The Pharmacist’s sister title Pulse that excerpts from it were used in materials seen by expert witnesses.

'Vital' to report errors

Mr Rudkin said: ‘We understand that pharmacy professionals may be worried about reporting errors and taking part in processes to learn from errors.  But it is vital for patient safety that errors are reported and discussed.

‘For this reason, our revalidation proposals seek to encourage and support pharmacy professionals to reflect on where their practice could be improved during their peer discussion.’

He continued: ‘We only take forward the most serious cases in our fitness to practise process, where it is in the interests of patient safety or upholding public confidence in pharmacy.

‘A single dispensing error would only be taken forward if there are significant other aggravating factors.  A key factor considered at each stage of a case is whether the pharmacy professional has acted with openness and honesty.’

The GPhC will be ‘considering any implications’ of the Dr Bawa-Garba case, Mr Rudkin said. ‘We will actively engage with the rapid review commissioned by the Secretary of State and led by Professor Norman Williams, and carefully consider all of the outcomes of that review,’ he added.