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Consultation on draft Standards for Chief Pharmacists launched by GPhC

A consultation on draft standards setting out the professional responsibilities of a chief pharmacist has been launched by the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC).

Aiming to support healthcare organisations and staff to deliver safe and effective pharmacy services, the four draft standards detail the knowledge, conduct and performance required of a chief pharmacist, or equivalent role, such as a director of pharmacy.

‘Chief pharmacists are senior healthcare professionals with a vital leadership role in making sure pharmacy services are delivered safely and effectively’, the GPhC said.

They ‘usually work in hospitals or settings such as care homes, some Integrated Care Boards (ICBs), some ambulance trusts, prisons, and other places where people are lawfully detained’, the regulator added.

The four draft standards are to provide strategic and professional leadership; develop a workforce with the right skills, knowledge, and experience; delegate responsibly and make sure there are clear lines of accountability; and maintain and strengthen governance to ensure safe and effective delivery of pharmacy services.

They were developed with input from ‘a broad range of stakeholders from across the pharmacy sector in England, Scotland, and Wales’, the GPhC said, and follow the ratification of The Pharmacy (Preparation and Dispensing Errors – Hospital and Other Pharmacy Services) Order.

This legislation came into force on 1 December 2023 and removed the threat of criminal penalties for accidental or unintentional preparation and dispensing errors by pharmacy staff working in hospitals and similar settings.

To benefit from the defences, the hospital or relevant setting must have a chief pharmacist (or equivalent) in post, who must be a registered pharmacist with the appropriate skills, training and experience, and who must meet the Standards for Chief Pharmacists.

GPhC Chief Executive Duncan Rudkin said: ‘Our draft Standards for Chief Pharmacists will complement our existing standards for all pharmacy professionals, strengthening assurance around these critical roles and empowering pharmacy professionals at a time of great challenge and opportunity for the professions.

‘We are committed to listening carefully to all views expressed to make sure that the standards reflect the views and needs of patients and the public, health professionals, the NHS and the wider health sector.’

The 12-week consultation is open until 16 April 2024, and the GPhC is looking for feedback on whether there are any settings in which the standards could not be applied or met, and any positive or negative impacts of the proposals.

The new standards are part of a wider programme of work by the GPhC to strengthen pharmacy governance, providing clarity around how pharmacies are organised and managed to help make sure patients and the public continue to receive safe and effective pharmacy care.

In December 2023, a UK-wide consultation into pharmacy supervision was launched by the Department of Health and Social Care, which set out proposals to amend and ’modernise’ legislation outlined in the Medicines Act 1968 and The Human Medicines Regulations 2012 on the supervision of activities by a pharmacist in a pharmacy.

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