The survey had a particular focus on the treatment of black, Asian, and minority, ethnic (BAME) pharmacists, who have been shown to be at increased risk of Covid-19 pandemic related issues (Photo: iStock).

The General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) has asked pharmacists to engage with the fitness to practise (FTP) process to improve their quality of service and ensure the safety of the customers during the pandemic.

In its draft strategy, ‘Fitness to practise: Ensuring patient safety, driving learning and improvement’, the pharmacy regulator said the current approach for dealing with concerns about pharmacy professionals was “too often cumbersome, lengthy and inefficient.” And this means it can be frustrating to patients, professionals and employers as well.

The regulator’s latest draft has greater relevance in the wake of current Covid-19 pandemic and concerns raised by the Professional Standards Authority (PSA) on FTP in February.

A pharmacy professional may not be fit to practise for a number of reasons, such as if their behaviour is putting patients at risk, they are practicing in an unsafe way, or their health may be affecting their ability to make safe judgement about their patients.

The coronavirus pandemic has reinforced the importance of considering the wider context when understanding the nature of a concern and identifying the appropriate outcome or action.

“We want pharmacy professionals to engage with the fitness to practise process in a positive way and see it as an opportunity to learn and reflect on their practise, thereby improving patient safety. We want fitness to practise to deliver improvements to the safe practise and professionalism of those who enter the process and not to restrict practice unnecessarily,” the GPhC has said.

Furthermore the pharmacy sector needs to understand more about why black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) professionals are disproportionately represented in the concerns “we receive and those that progress through the process.”

“We recognise that there will be situations where restrictions on or removal from practise are inevitable but we don’t think that these cases are the norm. We will only use formal fitness to practise processes when it is absolutely necessary and seek early solutions and remediation where appropriate.”

The latest draft is part of the programme for change as GPhC work towards legislative reform and delivery of Vision 2030, which sets out an ambitious ten-year vision for safe and effective pharmacy care at the heart of healthier communities.

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