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GPhC prepared to pursue employers over Covid risk assessments

The General Pharmaceutical Council is prepared to investigate employers who fail to carry out covid-19 risk assessments, chief executive Duncan Rudkin has said.

Addressing the NPA’s annual conference today by teleconference, Mr Rudkin said that while he was “not aware” of any GPhC investigations to date that had focused on the provision of coronavirus risk assessments, the regulator viewed disciplinary procedures as a “very real” option where employers fail to carry out their responsibilities.

However, he said the GPhC was making “overwhelmingly a positive case” for carrying out risk assessments rather than relying on a “regulatory stick”.

He cited evidence that the sector “hasn’t necessarily seen the level of practice we would expect” with regard to performing risk assessments for staff and working environments, with a June survey indicating that less than a third of BAME pharmacists had been assessed.

Mr Rudkin said that while the regulator’s key focus is on protecting patients, “it’s literally impossible to deliver services safely is staff are at risk”.

He said there has been some confusion over who is responsible for carrying out risk assessments for locum pharmacists, and advised employers that they had a responsibility to protect anyone working for them, whether they are employees or locums.

“I would argue you ought not to be treating [locums] differently when it comes to risk assessments,” he said.

However, he also emphasised the duty all workers have to ensure their own health and safety and that of others. “I would say it would be a good idea for self-employed locums to assess their own intrinsic risk,” he commented.

The NPA’s health and safety director Nick Wilson said that in most cases locums will collaborate with pharmacies “so that both parties are satisfied no unnecessary risks are being introduced”.

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