The chairman of the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC), Nigel Clarke, has said it is “quite wrong” that there are pharmacists who think they do not need to join their professional body.
Addressing delegates at the annual Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) conference on 8 September 2014, Clarke said the GPhC believes the best way to protect patients is to support and encourage professionalism – and part of that is pharmacists joining the RPS. “You should be telling colleagues that it is something that is expected of them by the public,” he added.
Clarke, who took up the role of GPhC chairman in March 2014, emphasised the important role of the RPS and its Faculty and Foundation programmes. The programmes are at the heart of professional development and practice and are “exceedingly important”.
Focusing on professional development, Clarke said that, although the regulator enforced minimum standards, it was also the regulator’s role to support pharmacists to go beyond the minimum. “It is essential to protecting the public,” he said.
“All of us should be thinking about outcomes for patients and the public,” he continued, emphasising the difference between professional output and professional outcomes. The latter will be the focus of the GPhC’s new pharmacy inspection model. “If you’re filling ten prescriptions but four are going to be taken incorrectly because the patient didn’t understand the advice you gave them, then that may be an output but it’s not much of an outcome,” he told the conference.
Another important aspect of professional practice is the ability to express concerns about patient safety, said Clarke. “If there are members of a team – no matter how junior – who do not feel they can stand up and express a professional view, then there is something wrong in that workplace.” He added that the GPhC’s new inspection model would be a challenge for pharmacy owners and superintendents who will have to prove there are systems in place that enable employees to make decisions in the best interest of patients.
Clarke also revealed that the GPhC is currently engaged in a review of education and training for pharmacy students at undergraduate level and beyond. “We will shortly be consulting on new ambitious standards,” he said.