Plans by the professional pharmacy regulator to transform and update its data strategy this year have been dogged by delays because they were “too ambitious”, it has emerged.
The General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) wanted to create a new database to help support its regulatory functions during 2017–2018.
It proposed bringing in new analytical tools at the same time to collect information needed to create pharmacy “insight reports”, which would inform its future projects and programmes.
But a report into the data strategy, which was discussed at the GPhC’s council meeting on 7 December 2017, admits the plan was overambitious. Its progress was given a “red” flag, meaning there had been “significant issues” with the warning that the expected aims may not be met “due to time or budget”.
The report said: “The Red Amber Green (RAG) rating is red because of the complexity of this task and the risks we need to address, which will prevent us from achieving the aims set out for this financial year.
“We have refined what we seek to achieve this year from the original plan at the start of the year, which was too ambitious.”
The report confirmed that the GPhC had recently taken on a new member of staff to help deliver the strategy, which it believed was still achievable within the next three years.
But the new priority this financial year was to “build capacity within the team to support our longer-term aims”.
The report added: “The scope of the project is being reviewed and we are working on discrete projects which will provide some earlier insight.”
New data warehouse
The GPhC’s director for insight, intelligence and inspection, Claire Bryce-Smith, said one of the GPhC’s key priorities was to gain more insight from the data it held, “which we can use to provide greater assurance about the safety of pharmacy services as well as promoting improvement in the sector”.
“We currently have a data warehouse from which we report on our data, including the annual report and our regular reports to our council on our performance,” she said.
“We have begun a project to develop a new data warehouse, to ensure we can further improve our reporting and analysis. There have been some delays to this, as we have been prioritising other work, including introducing a new system for tracking our fitness-to-practise cases, but plans are being progressed to drive forward the development of the new data warehouse in the new year.”
The GPhC has updated its strategic plan, outlining its achievements so far and highlighting challenges the organisation, and the pharmacy profession, is likely to face.
It says an ongoing squeeze on public-sector finances, and technological developments such as artificial intelligence and machine learning, will both present challenges to the sector.