The GPhC has responded to concerns raised by pharmacy professionals in relation to the recent high profile case of the trainee paediatrician, Hadiza Bawa-Garba.

Dr Bawa-Garba was convicted of gross negligence manslaughter over the death of a child. A medical practitioners’ tribunal had suspended Bawa-Garba for 12 months rather than strike her off after taking account of system failures that contributed to the child’s death.

However, judges last month overturned this decision after the General Medical Council appealed to the High Court “to maintain public confidence in the profession”.

Commenting on the case, Duncan Rudkin, chief executive of the GPhC, recognised the concern that it had caused among pharmacy professionals.

“It is widely accepted that the safety and quality of care that people receive is improved when pharmacy professionals are able to reflect on and learn from feedback and incidents. That is why we make clear in our standards for pharmacy professionals they must speak up when things go wrong.

“We understand that pharmacy professionals may be worried about reporting errors and taking part in processes to learn from errors but it is vital for patient safety that errors are reported and discussed. For this reason our revalidation proposals seek to encourage and support pharmacy professionals to reflect on where their practice could be improved during their peer discussion.”

The GPhC recognises there may be concern over how these reflections could be used, he said. “We want to be clear that we will not ask pharmacy professionals or peers to record what was discussed. Instead they will be asked to record how the process of having a peer discussion has benefited their practice.”

The regulator will be producing further information to help pharmacy professionals understand what they are expected to do.

“We only take forward the most serious cases in our fitness to practise process, where it is in the interests of patient safety or upholding public confidence in pharmacy,” said Mr Rudkin.

“A single dispensing error would only be taken forward if there are significant other aggravating factors. A key factor considered at each stage of a case is whether the pharmacy professional has acted with openness and honesty.”

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