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A lost opportunity

The Law Commission has proposed new statutes addressing the current system of healthcare professional regulation that is perceived to be inconsistent and fragmented. Your report says (PJ 2014;292:354) that the General Pharmaceutical Council will gain new powers, including that to strike off pharmacists not able to communicate clearly in English. This is a welcome enhancement of patient safety but the proposals fail to include measures to protect the four million residents of rural England who use their doctor for dispensing services. The GPhC remains unable to monitor and enforce standards for GP dispensing comparable with those required of community pharmacists. Dispensing GPs may well feel that they have been let off the hook.

However, this anomaly may yet be addressed because regulators will have power to make their own rules rather than have to apply to Government for sanction. It is an opportunity for the GPhC to work with the General Medical Council to extend the latter’s “good medical practice”, which currently includes guidance on “good practice in prescribing and managing medicines and devices”. This should also cover dispensing by including a postgraduate training requirement, supervision, standards for premises and inspectors visits to match pharmaceutical standards.

The situation has a long history and deep roots that remain a source of conflict. It needs a strong pharmacy advocate for change. Is it a forlorn hope that Royal Pharmaceutical Society will play this role, or will it remain just another lost opportunity for our profession to extend its influence and achieve equal standards of professional service in both town and country?

 

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal DOI: 10.1211/PJ.2014.11138189

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