Pharmacy Profession Will Have New Regulatory Body

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Pharmacy Profession

Historic changes to the regulation of the pharmacy profession announced earlier this year have been endorsed by an independent working party.

The short-term working party, led by Lord Carter of Coles was asked to work with key stakeholders on proposals to form two separate bodies to oversee pharmacy - a General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) to regulate the profession and a body akin to a Royal College for pharmacy to provide leadership.

Submitting his recommendations to the Government, Lord Carter of Coles said: "There is no doubt in my mind that a General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) should be formed and I hope our report points a way forward for the regulation and leadership of the pharmacy profession.

"It is entirely appropriate that the regulation of the pharmacy profession falls in line with other healthcare professionals, by ensuring regulation is independent of professional leadership. The transformation from a 'product-focused service' to a truly clinical profession, directly caring for patients and the public is to be welcomed."

Lord Carter expressed his thanks to the Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain (RPSGB) and Pharmaceutical Society of Northern Ireland (PSNI) for their active contribution to this important work, and to the Kings Fund for helping the working party's deliberations on professional leadership in pharmacy.

He also urged Government to continue in its partnership approach to the changes.

He said, "I have heard no significant dissent from this during the time of the working party. Indeed, there was positive support. The complexity of establishing both a new regulator and an effective professional leadership body should not be underestimated. That's why I have recommended a rigorous approach to implementation, as a partnership between Government (on behalf of the public) and the pharmacy profession."

Lord Carter's working party recommended that Government establish a Pharmacy Regulation and Leadership Oversight Group. This Group would work closely with the pharmacy profession and the Devolved Administrations, advising Ministers on how best to ensure that the GPhC is established in a safe, efficient and effective manner. It would also help to make sure that a body akin to a Royal College is established in a manner that is fit for purpose in order to complement the responsibilities of the GPhC.

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Welcoming the report and accepting this recommendation, Health Minister Lord Hunt said: "I thank the group for the considered work it has managed to produce in such a short space of time.

"In the past, pharmacy has not necessarily been given the recognition it so clearly deserves as a core sector of the health service.

"As we deliver more patient care in primary care and community settings the role of pharmacists will continue to grow and develop. We must do all we can to ensure that the profession is ready for the challenges ahead and the establishment of a General Pharmaceutical Council and a body akin to a Royal College will undoubtedly ensure consistently high quality and safe care for patients."

A PSNI spokesperson welcome the continued focus that Pharmacy regulation and professional representation is currently receiving from Government, and added

"From a Northern Ireland perspective we are grateful that the group has acknowledged that there needs to be full consideration of the practical and cultural differences between GB and NI, and respect that these differences have benefited patient care and pharmacy practise in Northern Ireland.

"In principle the Society supports the continuing the work to develop the concept of a Royal College and General Pharmaceutical Council, however, we consider that there is an equally compelling argument as to why the Society should remain as the independent regulatory body for Pharmacy in Northern Ireland.

"We wish to ensure that there is equal voice and representation for the devolved nations and their members."

At a seminar hosted by the Kings Fund to explore professional leadership in pharmacy, there was clear evidence of a growing consensus about taking the proposals forward in a collaborative manner across the pharmacy profession. Nearly all those present wanted to create a body akin to a Royal College to provide leadership for the pharmacy profession at national and UK level.

Hemant Patel, President of the RSGB said: "We want to work with others to ensure that the pharmacy profession can realise its full potential in improving patient care and safety. The RPSGB welcomes the publication of this report and the recognition in it that the Society will form a major component of a future body akin to a Royal College. We are already working with the PSNI and other pharmacy organisations to bring this to fruition.

"We recognise that the complexity of establishing both a new regulator and an effective professional leadership body should not be underestimated. The RPSGB has a great deal to contribute to this process and looks forward to working jointly and constructively with all stakeholders."

Although outside of the scope of the Working Party, Lord Carter also noted that the structure of pharmacy education appears to be subject to different mechanisms, when compared with other health professions. He asked that consideration of this issue be given elsewhere if the pharmacy profession is to make its full contribution to clinical care.

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