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Ministers may decide Society must separate its functions

Ministers are considering whether to allow the Royal Pharmaceutical Society to continue to have both professional and regulatory roles or to require the Society to come into line with the majority of other health professional regulators.

They have received NHS workforce director Andrew Foster’s advice on the future regulation of non-medical health professionals, but are waiting to see Sir Liam Donaldson’s review of the General Medical Council before making any announcements.

A Department of Health spokeswoman said: “We will be wanting to make sure that the reviews are not making recommendations that are at odds with each other.”

Julie Stone, deputy director of the Council for Healthcare Regulatory Excellence, said: “It would be wholly inappropriate to make any speculation as to the possible future of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society. The primary purpose of regulation is public protection. Having dual roles, as a number of regulatory bodies do, does not alter this position. The Society appears to manage its dual roles in a way that is compatible with public protection. Nonetheless, thought is currently being given to whether these roles should be separated and the Foster recommendations are likely to address this issue.”

Professor Stone’s comments were made in the context of a recent article by her in Consumer Policy Review (2005;15:216). The article expressed concern at a lack of co-ordination in the reforms being made to regulatory bodies through Section 60 Orders, with individual regulators being left to decide what they wanted. Professor Stone also discussed whether some of the regulators’ functions should be merged and whether there should be a single external adjudicating body for all professional complaints.

The Society declined to comment.

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal URI: 10020823

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