The National Pharmacy Association (NPA) has confirmed it will meet representatives from the Care Quality Commission (CQC) to discuss the meaning of a letter recently sent to community pharmacies suggesting they may have committed a criminal offence.
Earlier this month, the CQC wrote to some community pharmacies in England telling them they had a legal requirement to register with the organisation if they “provide regulated activities” and are providing “treatment of disease, disorder or injury” according to Schedule 1 and section 10 of the Health and Social Care Act 2008.
The letter said that community pharmacies could face a criminal prosecution if they failed to register.
But the NPA has explained that pharmacies need to register with the CQC only if they provide “regulated activities” as defined by the Act.
NPA chief pharmacist Leyla Hannbeck said: “The tone of the letters, which accuse recipients of breaching Section 10 of the Health & Social Care Act – that is, the ‘requirement to register as a service provider’ – is alarming.”
“There is a lack of clarity about these letters – what are the grounds on which they have been sent and why now?”
“That’s why we will be meeting with CQC in the coming weeks to understand what they are trying to achieve by sending these letters, and this is expected to take place in August.”
The number of community pharmacists who have received these letters is as yet unknown.
However, Ms Hannbeck urged pharmacists “to tell the NPA if they receive letters like this and if they have communicated with the CQC, so that we can advise and support them. It will also help us get a clear picture ahead of our meeting with the CQC,” she said.
In a statement, the CQC said: “If providers are offering care (as defined as ‘regulated activities’), this means they are legally required to be registered with CQC.”
“This is why CQC contacts providers if we have reason to suspect they are delivering a service that would require them to be registered. When we do this, we explain why we might think this, and we give the provider the chance to either fulfil their legal responsibility and register, to stop offering the service or to let us know that they are not delivering this kind of care.”
“This is about making sure people receive the safe and high quality care they deserve.”
CQC confirmed it was meeting with the NPA “to make sure that as the quality regulator in England, we act in a way that works for patients and providers.”
It added: “If anyone has any concerns about whether they need to register with CQC or suspects that a service in England is providing ‘regulated activities’ without the appropriate registration, they should contact us.”