The General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) is consulting on continuing to hold remote hearings in the futureThe 12-week consultation seeks feedback on a proposed permanent change to the GPhC’s procedural rules to give the pharmacy regulator the express legal power to conduct hearings and meetings by teleconference or videolink. In cases where the GPhC investigate a concern about a pharmacist or pharmacy technician and decide there is evidence to show that their fitness to practise may be impaired, the case may need to be referred for a hearing before a committee. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the GPhC held some hearings remotely by videolink. Following positive feedback from those taking part in remote hearings, the GPhC is seeking changes to enable it to continue to hold some hearings remotely in the future. The consultation is seeking views on the positive and negative impacts of continuing to hold some hearings remotely on patients and the public, pharmacy professionals and individuals or groups sharing protected characteristics. Views are also being sought on the advantages and disadvantages of holding remote hearings and on any circumstances when a hearing should not be held remotely.
GPhC Chief Executive Duncan Rudkin said:
“The success of remote hearings during the COVID-19 lockdown periods has demonstrated to us that remote hearings should also be an option beyond the pandemic. “At this stage we are open-minded about the extent to which remote hearings may be used and it is important to us to ensure that any changes to our legal framework are compatible with our core values of equality, diversity and inclusion. “We welcome views to help inform our next steps and guide our long-term approach to remote hearings.”The consultation is open from 16 November 2021 to 8 February 2022.