Several healthcare regulators have issued a joint statement “on meeting regulatory standards during periods of global or national shortage of medicines.”

  • General Pharmaceutical Council
  • General Medical Council
  • Health and Care Professions Council
  • Nursing and Midwifery Council
  • Pharmaceutical Society of Northern Ireland

The statement reads:

We know that health and care professionals are using their professional judgement and making decisions in challenging situations, balancing a range of factors such as individual patient needs, wider public health and pressures and limitations on available resources such as medicines shortages or other supply chain issues.

Health and care professionals must meet relevant regulatory standards in these circumstances, and they should be able to account for their decisions. This includes acting professionally at all times and providing person-centred care, using their knowledge and experience to make evidence-based decisions.

It’s vital that health and care professionals advise on, prescribe, supply, dispense or administer medicines within the limits of their training, competence and scope of practice, regulatory standards and guidance and the law. Alongside profession-specific codes of conduct, standards and guidance, health and care professionals are also expected to take account of relevant national policy and guidance.

In this context, health and care professionals, including prescribers, are expected to take account of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society’s ‘Competency Framework for all Prescribers‘ and apply this to reflect different areas of practice or situations. The framework sets out what good prescribing looks like and outlines key competencies such as the identification of evidence-based treatment options available for clinical decision making and prescribing (including prescribing medicines that are unlicensed, off-label, or outside standard practice).

The framework highlights the need for prescribers to assess the risks and benefits to the patient of taking or not taking a medicine or treatment, and to consider the wider perspective including the public health issues related to medicines and their use and promoting health.

The statement has been made in light of GLP-1 receptor agonists (GLP-1 RAs) shortages for people with Type 2 that the regulators said:

We know that these are being widely prescribed for weight loss purposes and in some cases prescribed off-label.

We recognise the adverse impact that shortages and supply chain issues can have on patients, the public and wider health and care teams.

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The GMC told Pulse that it is required to investigate all referrals which raise allegations about fitness to practise, and where the regulator’s case examiners cannot reconcile conflicting evidence about a serious allegation, the case is then referred on to the MPTS.

Chairman of the BIDA junior doctors forum Dr Sai Pillarisetti said:

‘It is clear that the basis for the referral was because one person’s opinion trumped that of an ethnic minority doctor.

‘Although the final outcome was positive for Dr Lammali, it does little to compensate for the years of stress and anxiety that this exercise must have caused him.’

Meanwhile, chairman of the British Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (BAPIO) Dr Ramesh Mehta questioned ‘why the GMC should take three years for a silly complaint like this to get investigated and make it to MPTS’.

Dr Mehta added:

‘This is such a simple thing that could’ve been resolved so easily. I have absolutely no doubt that if it was a white doctor instead of this chap, this should not have gone anywhere at all.’

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