Regulator fires out warning about cutting staff numbers

The General Pharmaceutical Council has warned that pharmacy owners “can expect particular scrutiny” of whether their pharmacies have enough staff for the safe provision of pharmacy services – even after the cuts to community pharmacy funding come into effect.

Chief executive Duncan Rudkin told delegates at a seminar examining ‘professionalism under pressure’, held in London earlier this week, that it is not the regulator’s role to have a position on the structure or level of funding for community pharmacy services. However, at this time of change, the GPhC wanted to remind pharmacy owners considering how to manage the impact of the funding cuts to ensure that:

  • They have enough suitably skilled and qualified staff for the safe and effective provision of the pharmacy services
  • Pharmacy governance arrangements are in place safeguarding the health, safety and wellbeing of patients and the public
  • The safety and quality of pharmacy services are kept under review
  • Staff are empowered to provide feedback and raise concerns about meeting these standards and other aspects of pharmacy services.

“It is not for the regulator to set staffing levels,” he emphasised. “Pharmacy owners must consider how many staff are needed within each individual pharmacy, what qualifications and skills staff should have, and how they are deployed and managed to provide services safely and effectively.

“We will continue to probe in this area so pharmacy owners, superintendent pharmacists and responsible pharmacists should be ready to demonstrate how they are upholding the relevant standards to safeguard the health, safety and wellbeing of patients and the public.”


Duncan Rudkin on...

Should the GPhC be doing more to uphold professionalism in pharmacy?

“At a human level, we do empathise with those in the profession who express feelings of disempowerment, distress, sometimes even amounting to despair. However, if individual members of the profession are telling us that they lack the self-confidence and skills to confidently challenge commercial management in order to assert and uphold their professionalism, and to do that without fear, then my view is that regulation is not the answer. If culture and leadership are the issues, regulation is not the main answer [either], although it has a part to play.”

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