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The GPhC must answer difficult questions

Puzzling decisions from the GPhC

The GPhC is suddenly in the spotlight. After displaying flexibility and responsiveness with many of its actions during the Covid crisis, it now finds itself facing difficult questions on several fronts. The decision to hike premises fees by 40 per cent with no obvious public safety rationale predictably went down like a lead balloon.

At a time when community pharmacy is in grave financial peril, the timing was unfortunate and insensitive, to say the least. Many pointed to the cost of the GPhC’s expensive Canary Wharf HQ. Time to measure up for curtains somewhere more cost-effective for all concerned.

The hard-line approach taken to pharmacists selling Covid antibody tests was also puzzling, coming on the back of a series of controversial pronouncements on commercial matters during the pandemic ranging from locum rates to the price of hand sanitizer. If the GPhC is going to regulate on the basis of evidence-based public health, a crackdown on homeopathic remedies and Chupa Chups is only a matter of time. Perhaps.

Meanwhile, the PDA is nagging away over the nonreporting of occupational Covid infections and the regulator will have its hands full with the proposed changes to pharmacist education. Fitness to practise complaints continue to rise sharply – a possible solution to the problem may lie elsewhere – and does the GPhC have a tight enough grip on miscreant internet pharmacies? That’s a full in-tray. At least there’s one piece of good news. There has been no mention of a super-regulator for a while…

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