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GPhC proposes stronger FtP guidance around racism and discrimination


GPhC proposes stronger FtP guidance around racism and discrimination

Pharmacy professionals who have been proven to display racist or discriminatory behaviour should in most cases be suspended or removed from the register entirely, says the GPhC in a proposed update to its fitness to practise guidance.

The regulator has launched an eight-week consultation on proposed additions to its guidance for fitness to practise committees aimed at providing greater clarity “about our expectations in this area”.

The proposed text states that FtP committees should “balance all the relevant issues” including aggravating and mitigating factors, but that where discriminatory behaviour has been proven they should “consider outcomes at the upper end of the scale,” meaning removal or suspension.

This is “because of the serious nature of these concerns and the impact on public trust and confidence in the profession”.

Discriminatory behaviour is defined as written or verbal abuse aimed at someone because of a protected characteristic such as race or sexuality, or threatening or aggressive behaviour for the same reason.

It can also include refusing a patient treatment because of their protected characteristics, or treating patients or colleagues “less favourably”. 

In the case of a conviction for hate crime or a racially aggravated offence, the GPhC says that removal from the register “would be the expected outcome”.

In other example scenarios, such as a registrant making racially motivated social media posts that are investigated by the police but do not lead to a conviction, the relator says an “outcome from the upper end of the scale would be expected”.

The GPhC argues that discriminatory behaviour is “unlikely” to be remediated through steps such as training courses or on-the job supervision, although it adds that evidence of “comprehensive insight and remorse” on the part of the registrant should be considered.

In another proposed addition to its FtP guidance, the GPhC says committees should consider “differences in cultural expressions, including those when expressing remorse”.

“For example, in some cultures written apologies are not the norm,” it says, adding that there may also be difference in the non-verbal cues people use to communicate.

“We want committees to carefully consider any cultural differences and sensitivities when taking account of expressions of remorse, apology and the submission of testimonials and references,” it said.

GPhC chief Duncan Rudkin said: “We want to update our hearings and outcomes guidance to reflect how seriously we take racism and other forms of discrimination.

“This new guidance will help committee members to make decisions on what action should be taken in fitness to practise cases involving discrimination, or where cultural sensitivities should be taken into account.” 

The consultation closes on January 31 2023.

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