Photo by National Cancer InstituteThe General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) is expected to be granted permanent statutory powers to conduct virtual fitness to practise hearings.

In GPhC council papers, “Response to the Covid-19 emergency: proposed changes to our procedural Rules”, the GPhC said it emergency powers “were originally intended to operate temporarily and cease to have effect on 1 May 2021, save for the provisions relating to electronic service of documents which were to be permanent changes.”

However, Sarah Davies, Senior Legal Advisor at General Pharmaceutical Council said in the report: “In order that we might best continue to perform our functions as the regulator of the pharmacy professions as safely and efficiently at this time, there remains a pressing need for us to be able to continue to operate more flexibly beyond 1 May 2021 in response to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.”

Following discussions with representatives from the Department of Health and Social Care, amendments to GPhC rules are intended to be brought about by the laying of a new statutory instrument, The General Pharmaceutical Council (Coronavirus) (Amendment) (No. 2) Rules Order of Council 2021.

The Order is expected to be approved on 2 March 2021.

The following provisions will be made permanent:

  • The GPhC will have an express legal power to conduct meetings or hearings by teleconference or video link, “virtual hearings”.
  • Where a hearing is being held by teleconference or video link, the Committee may order that the hearing is to be held in private.
  • The right of a registrant to attend a hearing, includes attending and taking part in a virtual or remote hearing.

Image Credit: Photo by National Cancer Institute