A quick overview of GPhC fitness to practise.
A pharmacist is fit to practise when they have “the skills, knowledge, character and health necessary to do their job safely and effectively, and when they act professionally and meet the principles of good practice set out in our various standards, guidance and advice.”
What type of concerns will the GPhC investigate?
The GPhC investigates concerns about pharmacists (and pharmacy technicians) that could suggest there is a risk to patient safety or could affect the public’s confidence in pharmacy. Examples of things the GPhC may investigate include:
- serious unprofessional or inappropriate behaviour
- dispensing errors
- criminal conduct
- dishonesty or fraud
- working under the influence of drinks or drugs
- having a health condition that affects the professional’s ability to practise safely
- poor professional performance
- practising while not on our register
GPhC’s Investigating Committee
Once an investigation has taken place, and if an allegation meets the GPhC’s threshold criteria, it is usually referred to an Investigating Committee (IC).
The IC meets in private and all papers and discussions remain confidential. This means that the person raising the concern, the pharmacy professional and GPhC investigation staff do not attend the meetings.
However, the pharmacy professional concerned will be invited to provide ‘written representations’ on the allegation. This is a critical juncture in the fitness to practise process where a pharmacist should carefully consider which allegations should be contested and which allegations in the circumstances should be accepted. Expert legal advice is critical at this stage.
In the event that allegations are accepted, the right approach and strategy is key for better outcomes. Careful consideration should be given to the written representations to demonstrate, for example, insight and remediation, to persuade the GPhC’s Investigating Committee that there is no public safety or reputational risk.
Seek advice about the investigation
The GPhC’s guidance advise pharmacists and pharmacy technicians to seek legal advice about their investigation.
At the investigation stage of the GPhC’s fitness to practise process, there are a few things to note:
- the GPhC have not made a decision about the concern(s) raised and whether this information means your fitness to practise is impaired;
- unless the GPhC specifically advise you not to do so, you can continue to practise and work as a pharmacist; and
- if a concern has been raised about you, this will not automatically result in your name being removed from the register.
The GPhC’s fitness to practise process is a long, stressful process for pharmacists. Furthermore, the process is complex and requires very careful consideration and engagement.
Expert legal advice and representation is key to good outcomes for pharmacists facing GPhC fitness to practise investigations and hearings. Depending on the nature of the concerns raised, with the assistance of legal advice, fitness to practise investigations can be closed without the need for a full fitness to practise hearing.
GPhC Case Success Examples
- Kings View achieve case closed for pharmacist
- Early resolution for pharmacist facing GPhC fitness to practise investigation
If you are facing a fitness to practise complaint, investigation or hearing, contact us for a free, no-obligation discussion. You can also read more about our approach, fees and our work.
It will not investigate concerns that relate to:
- claims for compensation
- customer service issues, for example not receiving an apology from pharmacy staff
- contract issues, for example hours of opening, charges for private prescriptions
How long is the investigation process and when can I expect an outcome?
The length of an investigation depends on the nature of the concern and its complexity. According to the GPhC, it aims to finish an investigation “as soon as possible” but usually within six months of receiving a concern.
Disclaimer: This article is for guidance purposes only. Kings View Chambers accepts no responsibility or liability whatsoever for any action taken, or not taken, in relation to this article. You should seek the appropriate legal advice having regard to your own particular circumstances.