The GPhC’s performance is reviewed annually by the PSA, against a set of standards. The PSA report covers the period from 1 March 2020 to 28 February 2021.
The report from the PSA recognises that the GPhC responded and adapted well to the COVID-19 pandemic across the organisation. In connection with the GPhC’s response to the pandemic, the PSA report noted that up-to-date information was frequently published online for registrants (pharmacists and pharmacy technicians) as well as for members of the public. The fact that two additional registers were set up and that work was carried out remotely where possible was also highlighted.
All the standards were met across four PSA categories:
- General standards (which includes equality, diversity and inclusion, the way we provide information and apply policies, respond to public inquires and other independent reports, and work with stakeholders to protect patients and the public)
- Guidance and Standards
- Education and Training
However, three out of five standards within the Fitness to Practice category were not met.
The PSA report said:
“Our targeted review included an audit of a sample of closed fitness to practise cases. We concluded that the GPhC did not meet Standards 15, 16 and 18. The GPhC has been implementing a wide-ranging action plan to address concerns we reported under the equivalent Standards in 2018/19.1 The pandemic delayed some of this work, but the GPhC has now completed most of the action plan. We have started to see improvements in some areas.
“However, there is still work to be done to improve the transparency and
clarity of some fitness to practise processes, timeliness of case progression and support for people involved in the fitness to practise process.”
GPhC Chief Executive Duncan Rudkin said:
“It is a key priority for us to make improvements in our fitness to practise processes, first and foremost to meet the concerns of the public and patients, to ensure fairness to registrants, and to meet the Standards of the PSA.
“As the 2020/21 performance report highlights, some of the improvement work we had planned during this performance review period started later than anticipated because we needed to respond quickly and effectively to the challenges and pressures of the pandemic.
“During the pandemic, we received high numbers of concerns, could not progress investigations as quickly as usual and had to rapidly move to remote hearings.
“However, we made sure we took forward work to finalise and implement our strategy on changing the way we manage concerns about pharmacy professionals. This continues to be a priority area for us, so we are able to take swift action to protect patients when needed, while at the same time promoting a learning culture that allows pharmacy professionals to deal with any concerns and go back to practising in appropriate circumstances.
“We are pleased that the performance report recognises the progress made in the particular circumstances of the pandemic. The report also recognises that while we had to re-prioritise and adapt our plans, we have managed to complete almost all of the planned improvement actions.
“As highlighted in the report, it will take time to see evidence of the impact of some of these changes. We expect the PSA will see further improvements when they review our performance for 2021/22.”