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General Pharmaceutical Council

GPhC fails to listen to consultation feedback, 25% of surveyed registrants say

In a survey of General Pharmaceutical Council registrants, 25% believe that the regulator does not listen to their views when developing policies, standards and guidance.

A quarter of respondents to a General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) survey said they do not feel the regulator listens to feedback provided by its registrants in consultation responses.

The survey on GPhC services and communications, which ran between 22 February 2018 and 22 March 2018, received a total of 508 responses.

Of the 76 responses to a question on whether the regulator “listens to the views of its registrants when developing policies, standards and guidance”, 25% said they either disagreed or strongly disagreed, while a further 30% said they neither agreed nor disagreed.

The GPhC said in its report on the survey that some pharmacists suggested “that they felt their views were being ignored or that the GPhC had already decided on the final approach before the consultation took place”.

“At least one respondent suggested we should make it clearer how we have acted on what we heard,” the report added. “Another respondent suggested we should publish separate reports from focus groups, rather than including summaries of focus groups within consultation reports, to highlight in detail what we heard from stakeholders during consultation events.”

The survey results come after the GPhC said in council papers published on 4 March 2019 that it would be going forward with fee increases, despite 70% of more than 5,000 responses disagreeing with the proposals.

Nick Hunter, chief officer of Doncaster, Rotherham and Nottinghamshire local pharmaceutical committees, agreed that the GPhC could “do more to demonstrate how [it has] listened and what [it is] doing differently as a result”.

“This may then build registrants’ confidence to engage more in future consultations,” he said, but added that the proportion of people responding to the question represents a “small sample”.

“There will always be a proportion of people who don’t agree or have a different opinion to the majority — and therefore feel that they have not been listened to — because whoever is consulting cannot meet every respondent’s request due to the diversity [of] individual demands,” said Hunter.

The same question showed that 41% of respondents either agree or strongly agree that the GPhC listens to its registrants.

In November 2018, it was reported that half of all organisations and 62% of individuals who responded to a consultation on unannounced GPhC inspections supported the proposals, which are now going ahead.

A YouGov poll commissioned by the regulator also supported the move, revealing that 79% of people believed unannounced inspections of pharmacies would reassure the public.

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal DOI: 10.1211/PJ.2019.20206257

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