The Pharmacists’ Defence Association (PDA) has raised concerns regarding the General Pharmaceutical Council’s (GPhC) consultation on its draft equality guidance for pharmacies.

The PDA said the consultation, which ran from 7 April 2020 to 6 June 2021, sought to link the proposed guidance with the GPhC’s standards for registered pharmacies ‘without any proposed mechanism for how this would be monitored by GPhC inspectors’.

‘The existing framework does not mention the word equalities or diversity or inclusivity or the term EDI even once within the 29 pages of the document,’ said the PDA in its response.

‘In effect, the proposals will allow the same inequalities to persist as the proposals are inadequate unless some significant changes are made.’

It said that failure by a premises owner to demonstrate how the equalities guidance has been applied should automatically lead to a ‘standard not met’ outcome, and that the GPhC must require inspectors to whether and how the equalities guidance has been applied.

The organisation also raised concerns that the document suggested to pharmacy owners that they didn’t need to undertake a specific risk assessment at every pharmacy premises.

It described the suggestion as ‘incomprehensible’ and said it would make it ‘exceptionally easy’ for large corporate pharmacy owners, which make up most premises (some of which own more than 1,000 sites), and would likely lead to poor practice and pose a risk to patients.

The PDA said it did not accept that a generic risk assessment would be valid and that ‘every pharmacy premises is unique and thus needs its own unique assessment of risk’.

A spokesperson from the GPhC said: ‘We are currently analysing responses to the consultation and will carefully consider all of the feedback received, including the feedback from the PDA. Once we have done this, we will publish a report summarising what we heard and our responses. Therefore, it is not appropriate for us to comment at this stage.’

This comes after the PDA  has called on registration exam candidates to ensure they feed back to the GPhC or the Pharmaceutical Society of Northern Ireland about their experience, after delays due to IT or other technical issues were reported at some centres.