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General Pharmaceutical Council

Risk assessments of provisionally registered pharmacists could be checked by the regulator

Exclusive: The pharmacy regulator has said that all preregistration students awarded provisional registration owing to the COVID-19 pandemic will need to be risk assessed by the employing pharmacy, and that these assessments may be checked when the regulator resumes inspections.

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The Royal Pharmaceutical Society has made this article free to access in order to help healthcare professionals stay informed about an issue of national importance.

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Duncan Rudkin, chief executive of the General Pharmaceutical Council

Source: General Pharmaceutical Council

Duncan Rudkin, chief executive of the General Pharmaceutical Council, said that a “one-size-fits-all risk assessment from us, would not probably make a lot of sense”

Pharmacy inspectors may ask to see risk assessments made by pharmacies when they employ pharmacists who are provisionally-registered during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Inspections from the pharmacy regulator, the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC), are currently on hold owing to the pandemic. However, Mark Voce, director of education and standards at the GPhC, told The Pharmaceutical Journal that when the provisional registration system begins in summer 2020, and inspections restart, “there are different measures that we may well want to take to provide assurance for ourselves and, ultimately, the public”.

He added that GPhC inspection teams may ask to see risk assessments and other measures taken by employers.

Duncan Rudkin, chief executive of the GPhC, told The Pharmaceutical Journal that employers would have to “provide additional assurance, above and beyond what we would normally require in terms of management and oversight of staff”, when employing pharmacists on the provisional register.

He said that employers “as the people legally providing services to the public, actually take that share of responsibility; of making sure that you understand the issues and risks around this novel form of practice, and that you’ve got a plan for making sure that’s being done safely”.

As part of the GPhC’s requirements for provisional registration employers will be asked to ensure that all provisionally registered pharmacists are risk assessed before they can start work.

Rudkin said this was not a job for the regulator.

“[A] one-size-fits-all risk assessment from us, would not probably make a lot of sense,” he said, highlighting that each pharmacy, and each provisionally-registered pharmacist, was different.

Leyla Hannbeck, chief executive of the Association of Independent Multiple Pharmacies, said the GPhC had “always been very clear about the fact that all pharmacies are required to identify risks proactively, and manage them”. 

Gail Fleming, director for education and professional development at the Royal Pharmaceutical Society, said that a risk assessment “will be an important part of keeping both the public and provisionally-registered pharmacists safe”.

“It’s important it’s not a bureaucratic process: it must be meaningful and valuable,” she added.

Voce also told the The Pharmaceutical Journal that the GPhC will carry out a procurement exercise ahead of the postponed summer 2020 registration exam, which will be held online on a date to be confirmed. The procurement exercise will look at security issues and “practical points” including broadband access, as well as how to take into account the needs of those with any additional requirements — for example, candidates with dyslexia — and medical conditions. The exam, he said, must be “absolutely fair to all individuals who will need to take it”, adding that “we understand absolutely the anxiety that many will be going through”.

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal DOI: 10.1211/PJ.2020.20208012

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