The pharmacy regulator has been urged to look at its ongoing fitness-to-practise cases to make sure a repeat of the Gosport War Memorial Hospital scandal is not currently happening.
Mohammed Hussain, who sits on the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC), told its council meeting on 12 July 2018 that the GPhC should take immediate action to try to ensure that there is no repeat of the case in which at least 450 patients died following the administration of dangerous doses of medicines.
The GPhC has said it will produce a “careful and comprehensive” review of the Gosport Independent Panel’s report into the events at the Hampshire hospital by the end of August 2018.
But Hussain urged the regulator to take action straight away to avoid a repeat of the Gosport tragedy. “We can’t assume that [something similar] is not happening now,” he said.
“Could we screen the current case mix for cases that might have similar characteristics?”
A report into the events at Gosport between 1986 and 2000, published in June 2018, said there was no evidence that pharmacists had questioned prescribing practices at the hospital where patients were given inappropriate doses of opioid painkillers.
The pharmacy regulator has promised that its review of the Gosport report will look at the role of pharmacists in challenging poor prescribing practices; consider the experiences of patients and families of patients at Gosport Memorial Hospital and examine how these can be applied to the GPhC’s work as a regulator; and look at how the duty of candour could feed into its work on raising concerns.
The GPhC review will also consider fitness-to-practise issues outlined in the Gosport report, including the use of interim orders; undue delay; the appropriateness of questions from fitness-to-practise panel members; and how accountability can be undermined by deferring to other agencies.
Berwyn Owen, council member and chief pharmacist at the Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board, said the review should also look at events at the Tawel Fan ward at the board where he works, which were subject to an investigation that concluded in May 2018 following allegations of mistreatment of vulnerable patients.
The GPhC said it would also update its report, once published, when the government responds to the Gosport panel’s report in the autumn of 2018.