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GPhC fails on its handling of fitness to practise for fourth year running

Pharmacy News

GPhC fails on its handling of fitness to practise for fourth year running

The GPhC has failed on key tests of its handling of fitness to practise cases for the fourth consecutive year.

In its annual report on the regulator, the Professional Standards Authority said that in the 16 months to June 30 this year, the GPhC was still failing to complete fitness to practise investigations in a timely manner.

The report shows that in 2021-22 the number of FtP cases open for more than 52 weeks leapt to 298, a 37 per cent increase on the previous year.

The GPhC says it has taken steps to improve the timeliness of case progression such as hiring more case officers and using external law firms to offer guidance on complex cases, with further measures expected in the near future.

The PSA said it also had ongoing concerns about the GPhC’s documenting of risk assessments and the support it offers to those involved in FtP processes.

While the GPhC launched a new five-year FtP strategy in July 2021 it is “too early to see the evidence of the impact of this wide-ranging work,” said the PSA.

It added: “We will monitor its impact in the coming years.

“One area of particular interest is the GPhC’s intention to manage concerns outside its normal processes, such as through voluntary agreements.

“It is important that the GPhC uses these informal processes in a way that is fair to registrants.”

The GPhC managed to meet all the required standards in other areas, such as inclusion and diversity, registration and guidance and standards.

Despite the uproar over the handling of the June registration assessment this year, the PSA said the GPhC had met both its standards for education and training.

The PSA commented: “The delays on the day of the sitting, and the impact on candidates, were concerning but the GPhC is treating them seriously and taking a range of actions to remediate what happened and prevent it from happening again.”

GPhC chief Duncan Rudkin commented: “We are encouraged that the PSA’s performance report recognises the positive direction we are going in as far as fitness to practise is concerned, and acknowledges that embedding change does take time.

“We are very focused on implementing our fitness to practise 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.”

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