Changes to healthcare regulation will see the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) have ‘greater autonomy’ over its fitness-to-practise (FTP) procedures and allow cases against pharmacists to be resolved more quickly, the Government announced today (9 July).

The new legislation will aim to deliver more modern and efficient FTP processes, provide better support for professionals and more responsive and accountable regulation, the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) said.

The changes are in response to the DHSC’s ‘promoting professionalism; reforming regulation’ consultation that explored reforms for the UK’s healthcare regulatory bodies, including the GPhC and the doctors’ regulator the General Medical Council (GMC).

The proposals also include enabling regulators to decide the number of people on an FTP panel and make ‘simple operational changes’ without the need for Parliamentary approval, the DHSC said.

The UK and Devolved Governments will develop draft legislation that will be consulted on at a later date, it added.


'Greater accountability'


‘We will provide the regulators with the autonomy to set more of their own operating procedures leading to more responsive regulation’, the DHSC said.

GPhC chief Duncan Rudkin welcomed the move which he said would free up resources to support ‘the professionalism' of pharmacists and pharmacy technicians, however, he raised concerns about proposals to implement changes to the GPhC’s council structure.

He said: ‘We agree that this greater autonomy must be accompanied by greater accountability.

‘There needs to be openness and transparency across all our processes to maintain the confidence of the public and health professionals.’

But the GPhC ‘remain unconvinced’ that a move to a unitary board of executive and non-executive directors will improve its governance or provide ‘appropriate board-level input’ from both pharmacists and pharmacy technicians, he added.

‘We believe the current structure for our council, in which we have equal numbers of professional and lay members, is working very effectively and brings significant benefits, and crucially commands the confidence of the pharmacy professions,’ he said.

The consultation also explored a reduction in the number of healthcare regulators, for example by grouping the nine current regulatory bodies into three separate regulators covering doctors, nurses and all other professionals including pharmacists.

However, DHSC said ‘more work is needed’ before a proposal for consolidating the regulators is brought forward for consultation.