Police raising more FtP concerns about pharmacists

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Police raising more FtP concerns about pharmacists

The number of police and other law enforcement personnel raising concerns with the GPhC’s fitness to practise (FtP) arm more than doubled in 2020-21 compared to the previous year, the regulator has revealed.

Published on Monday July 5, the GPhC’s annual report shows there were 117 FtP referrals from enforcement organisations in 2020-21, up from 55 the previous year. 

Members of the public continue to raise the most concerns with the regulator, accounting for 1,756 concerns, while fewer referrals came from healthcare professionals and GPhC inspectors than in previous years.

The overall number of concerns raised about pharmacists and pharmacy technicians was similar to the previous year (2,998 versus 29,49 in 2019-20), although a far greater number of these were closed at triage stage (2,380 versus 1,405 in 2019-20).

This is largely because of the “flexible and proportionate” approach adopted by the regulator during the Covid-19 pandemic whereby it prioritised concerns that presented a possible risk to patient safety.

Cases that do not involve patient safety are then kept on file as intelligence that can be used to inform future pharmacy investigations, the GPhC explained. 

A total of 35 cases ended up being referred to the FtP committee, down from 40 in 2019-20, while the number of pharmacy professionals suspended or removed from the register fell from 17 to nine and from 16 to 10 respectively. 

Meanwhile, the switch to remote FtP hearings during the pandemic has led to “increased levels of engagement” compared with physical hearings, “with a registrant attendance rate of 85 per cent over the past year, compared to compared to approximately 65 per cent pre-lockdown”. 

“We’ve also received mostly positive feedback from all attendees at our remote hearings,” said the GPhC, adding that it plans to “continue to hold remote hearings when this is appropriate”.

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