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GPhC to spend up to £100k on recruiting new council members in March 2020

The pharmacy regulator has announced that it will spend between £50,000 and £100,000 on a recruitment campaign to diversify its council members.

The General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) will spend up to £100,000 on increasing the diversity of candidates to take up its council positions from 2020.

The regulator, which announced in its May 2019 council papers that there would be three vacancies on the council in March 2020, has put a contract out to tender for a recruitment agency to assist with the appointments. The contract, worth between £50,000 and £100,000, is expected to run from 19 July 2019 to 30 April 2020.

Using an external recruitment agency will help ensure that the recruitment process is free from discrimination and attracts a broad, diverse range of suitably qualified candidates, the GPhC said, adding that it used an executive search agency which specialises in board appointments to manage the recruitment process for council members in 2019.

The GPhC also said that the agency helped to increase the diversity and calibre of candidates and meant that staff and panel members could only see redacted documentation, reducing the risk of any bias in the process.

Mohammed Hussain, senior clinical lead at NHS Digital and a former GPhC council member, said using an external agency is a ”positive step” as it ”ensures a degree of independence, with recruitment specialists managing the process”. 

”As a profession we benefit from an independent process that identifies the very best pharmacy and lay talent to take on the senior roles on council,” he said

”This process also reduces the impact on the senior leadership at GPhC from having to manage several hundred applications, leaving them to focus on the core role of running the organisation.”

But Elsy Gomez Campos, a locum hospital pharmacist who was previously vocal about the lack of black pharmacists on the GPhC council, said the use of “registrants’ money to secure the expertise of an agency similar to the one used this year seems unnecessary and scandalous”.

“There is no guarantee that using an external agency is going to reduce bias in the recruitment process,” she said.

“Many of those agencies are used by the NHS when recruiting for chairs and [non-executive directors] but, as per the recently published information by the NHS Confederation, appointments of board members in the NHS continue to be non-diverse.”

A report published on 6 June 2019 from the NHS Confederation found a reduction in the percentage of chairs and non-executives from a black and minority ethnic (BME) background since the early 2000s, despite 19% of the NHS workforce being BME.

Following the recruitment process in 2019, five new members were appointed to the council: Neil Buckley, chief executive, accounting officer and board member of the Legal Services Board; Penny Hopkins, a pharmacy technician and national healthcare development executive at AAH Pharmaceuticals; Ann Jacklin, the professional lead for the Carter Review Programme, Mental Health and Community Services for NHS Improvement; Rima Makarem, an external commissioner and audit chair at the House of Commons Commission; and Aamer Safdar, principal pharmacist and lead for education and development at Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust.

The GPhC added that the council budgeted for the recruitment and selection campaign, including the use of an external agency, in its budget for 2019/2020.

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal DOI: 10.1211/PJ.2019.20206684

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