GPhC seeing sharp rise in profiteering concerns
The General Pharmaceutical Council is seeing a â€œsignificant riseâ€ in Fitness to Practise concerns being raised against registrants, citing profiteering concerns as a main contributor.
In papers released ahead of its virtual council meeting on April 23, the GPhC said that in March over one hundred more FtP concerns were raised than would usually be seen in this period.
â€œMany related to concerns about pricing and profiteering,â€ the GPhC said, though it added that it was â€œunlikelyâ€ the rise in complaints against registrants would lead to an equivalent rise in FtP hearings.
Concerns around pricing are generally considered to fall outside the regulatorâ€™s remit, although GPhC chief Duncan Rudkin recently issued a statement warning that increased medicine prices and locum rate hikes during the Covid-19 pandemic â€œrisks bringing the profession into disrepute at a time when public confidence generally is so fragile, and so importantâ€.
A GPhC spokesperson told Pharmacy Network News: "When receiving concerns we will look at all the information provided, consider whether the GPhC can act upon the issues raised, consider whether the information calls into question a pharmacy professionalâ€™s fitness to practise, and decide whether we should begin an investigation.
"If the concern is better dealt with by another regulator or agency such as the Competition and Makets Authority, we will pass it on to them. However, sometimes we may carry out an investigation alongside another body or agency."
â€˜Focusing resources where neededâ€™
Describing its work during the pandemic, the GPhC said it was â€œfocusing resources where they were most needed while aiming to minimise the burden on pharmaciesâ€.
For example, pharmacists and pharmacy technicians who are the subject of FtP concerns are being given more time to respond, and cases involving interim orders against registrants, or where there is an immediate risk to patient safety, are being prioritised over other cases.
Furthermore, routine inspections have stopped and inspectors are instead â€œspeaking to pharmacies by telephone or carrying out visits to help and support them as well as checking on how pharmacies were handling the pandemic,â€ according to the papers.
Meanwhile, the GPhCâ€™s finance and planning committee is assessing the impact of the pandemic on the regulatorâ€™s finances, and is formulating a position on whether to press ahead with a multi-fee review including a proposed 39 per cent increase in premises fees.