The General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) has published its new strategy: Delivering equality, improving diversity and fostering inclusion: Our strategy for change 2021-2026. The strategy was agreed by the GPhC Council, after it was updated to reflect the feedback from a public consultation held between April and July 2021.

The strategy sets out a framework for how the GPhC will embed considerations of equality, diversity and inclusion in all aspects of its work as a regulator and as an employer. The strategy will also help the GPhC deliver on its commitments in its 2030 Vision “Safe and effective pharmacy care at the heart of healthier communities” and its Strategic Plan. It describes how we meet our obligations under the Equality Act and supports us to achieve more than compliance with strict legal requirements in this area. 

The strategy sets out three key themes to help transform the pharmacy regulator’s approach to equality, diversity and inclusion:

  1. To make regulatory decisions that are demonstrably fair, lawful, and free from discrimination and bias.
  2. To use our standards to proactively help tackle discrimination and to make sure everyone can access person-centred care, fostering equality of health outcomes.
  3. To lead by example and demonstrate best practice within our organisation, holding ourselves to the same high standards we expect of others.

Feedback from the consultation

The final strategy reflects the feedback from over 250 individuals and 28 organisations who responded to the 12-week consultation.  

Overall, individuals and organisations who responded to the consultation or attended our engagement events were supportive of the principles outlined across all three themes and felt the proposals represented a positive step and the right direction of travel for the GPhC. The vast majority of respondents either agreed or strongly agreed that strategic themes, strategic objectives and strategic outcomes were appropriate. The GPhC has published a full analysis report summarising the responses.

A number of changes were made to the strategy to reflect what we heard.  This included creating a new Foreword, making changes to the wording of some of the strategic themes and expanding on the ‘Words Matter’ section, which was well received by respondents. Specific references to health inequalities, inclusive services, and language, literacy or other communications barriers were added in the context of how the GPhC will support pharmacy technicians, pharmacists and pharmacy teams to provide culturally competent or culturally sensitive care.

The GPhC said:

“We are now developing an action plan and will be reporting on progress in due course.  A number of key initiatives under this strategy has already started, including the development of our new equality guidance for pharmacy owners, to support them to meet their obligations under the Equality Act and Human Rights Act.”

GPhC Chair Nigel Clarke said:

“This new strategy sets out an agenda which is ambitious, challenging and essential. The pandemic has undoubtedly exacerbated and further exposed the scope and scale of inequities in society, in healthcare outcomes and in pharmacy.

“Inequality and exclusion are bad for people’s health. Therefore this strategy is fundamental to our core purpose as a regulator and our vision for safe and effective pharmacy care at the heart of healthier communities.”

GPhC Chief Executive Duncan Rudkin said:

“Our obligation and opportunity to use all the regulatory levers and influence at our disposal to support, encourage and where necessary to drive positive change in pharmacy is set out clearly and comprehensively in our strategy. 

“The GPhC’s commitment to holding itself to account for delivering on our new strategy was widely supported throughout our consultation and engagement programme. 

“We have also listened carefully to people’s suggestions of the work we can do to take forward the strategy and will consider these suggestions in more detail as we develop our action plan.”

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