The General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) has failed to meet three out of five fitness-to-practise (FTP) standards set by the Professional Standards Authority (PSA), an annual review has found

The PSA — an independent regulator that oversees standards of all UK health regulators — published the review on 7 February, which assessed the GPhC on five categories including general standards, guidance and standards, education and training, registration and fitness to practise.

The pharmacy’s regulator has satisfied four PSA categories, but has not met all the standards in the fifth category, which looks at fitness to practise.  

The three standards not met in the FTP category included customer services, transparency and clarity around certain FTP processes and the timeliness with which work is completed which the PSA said had ‘significantly declined’. 

As it is the ‘third consecutive year’ the regulator has not failed to meet these standards, the PSA said it ‘will be monitoring the GPhC’s performance in these areas closely’ due to the repeated failure to meet these standards.

The GPhC acknowledged that further improvement to its FTP process will be a ‘key priority’ going forward.  

Registration assessment  

According to the PSA, some GPhC exam candidates complained over the GPhC’s handling of the registration assessment during the pandemic. 

However, the PSA wrote in its report that it does ‘not have concerns about the GPhC’s accreditation activities during the pandemic, because it adapted them in a reasonable and proportionate way’. 

While the PSA said they were ‘concerned’ as ‘some of the issues were foreseeable and preventable’. It said it was ‘assured that the GPhC took prompt steps to rectify them’. 

GPhC’s response  

Duncan Rudkin, GPhC chief executive said that some of the planned improvement work to the FTP process was delayed due to Covid.  

‘We needed to respond quickly and effectively to the challenges and pressures of the pandemic,’ he explained, during which they received high numbers of concerns, could not process investigations quickly and had to move to remote hearings.

‘However, we made sure we took forward work to finalise and implement our strategy on changing the way we manage concerns about pharmacy professionals,’ he added.

‘This continues to be a priority area for us, so we are able to take swift action to protect patients when needed, while at the same time promoting a learning culture that allows pharmacy professionals to deal with any concerns and go back to practising in appropriate circumstances.’ 

Mr Rudkin said he was pleased the report recognised some progress made within the pandemic and that while they had to ‘to re-prioritise and adapt our plans, we have managed to complete almost all of the planned improvement actions’.  

 ‘As highlighted in the report, it will take time to see evidence of the impact of some of these changes. We expect the PSA will see further improvements when they review our performance for 2021/22,’ he said.