The General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) has failed to meet three out of five fitness-to-practise (FtP) standards, following an annual review by the Professional Standards Authority (PSA).
This is the fourth consecutive year that the GPhC has failed to meet standards relating to FtP, having most recently met all the necessary requirements in the PSA’s 2017/2018 review.
The PSA — an independent regulator that sets standards for all UK health regulators — published its annual review on 30 September 2022, which showed that the GPhC met all standards relating to guidance and standards, education and training, and registration between 1 March 2021 and 30 June 2022.
However, the pharmacy regulator again failed to meet three standards relating to the transparency, fairness and timeliness of the FtP process and the support available for the people involved.
In the report, the PSA highlighted that the GPhC had completed the “wide-ranging” action plan it had developed to address concerns raised in 2018/2019, and had launched its new FtP strategy.
However, the PSA said that it was “yet to see” evidence that its concerns had been “fully addressed”.
These concerns included the transparency and clarity of its triage process and the impact of this on the fairness of the process and quality of triage decisions; the quality of threshold criteria decisions; the timeliness of FtP investigations and the support provided to parties to participate in the process.
“We recognise the GPhC’s continued commitment to address our concerns and the direction of travel remains positive,” the report said.
“However, the timing of activities this year, coupled with the time it takes to demonstrate the impact of changes, means we have not yet seen tangible evidence that our remaining concerns have been addressed.”
The PSA report also mentioned issues that arose with the June 2022 sitting of the registration assessment and said that the delays that occurred on the day of the sitting and the impact it had on candidates were “concerning”.
As well as highlighting areas for improvement, the report also praised areas of the GPhC’s work, including its commitment to equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) with the launch of its new EDI strategy and continued work on its education reforms.
In a statement published on 30 September 2022, Duncan Rudkin, chief executive of the GPhC, said he was “encouraged” that the PSA’s report recognised the “positive direction” the organisation was going in regarding FtP.
“Embedding change does take time,” he said. “We are very focused on implementing our FtP improvement work as efficiently and effectively as possible.
“We have already made significant improvements as part of delivering our managing concerns strategy, with more improvements being implemented over the coming year.”