The General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) has launched a consultation on new guidance for pharmacy owners which outlines what they are expected to do to ensure everyone in the pharmacy team can provide safe and effective services to patients and the public.

The proposed guidance for pharmacy owners covers both registered and unregistered staff, including managers who are not registered pharmacy professionals. This is the first time the GPhC has set out in guidance what pharmacy owners should do to make sure that non-registrant managers, who can play a critical role in the pharmacy, understand their responsibilities and the responsibilities of the rest of the pharmacy team, including pharmacy professionals.

The consultation document explains how the GPhC plans to make changes to strengthen and assure the regulatory framework for unregistered pharmacy staff.

The new guidance would replace the current policy on minimum training requirements for dispensing/ pharmacy assistants and medicines counter assistants, which the GPhC Council has agreed is outdated, inflexible and can be improved.

Duncan Rudkin, chief executive of the GPhC said: “We are holding a consultation because we know that an effective pharmacy team is key to safe and effective care. We’ve had feedback from our online workshops and events over the last twelve months about this topic and we wanted to provide guidance which provided greater clarity on roles and responsibilities.

“Our proposed approach gives pharmacy owners the flexibility for current and future roles to decide what training their staff need for their individual roles, but also makes them accountable for ensuring that all staff working in the pharmacy are competent and empowered to provide safe and effective care to people using their services.

“There are some important proposals in here and we want to hear back from interested parties so that we can get this right.”

The proposed new guidance sets out:
· the key areas that are needed to support a safe and effective pharmacy team
· the pharmacy owner’s responsibility to ensure unregistered pharmacy staff are competent for their roles and the tasks they carry out
· the pharmacy professional’s responsibility to ensure that anyone they delegate a task to is competent and appropriately trained, and exercise proper oversight
· the importance of staff in managerial or leadership positions, who may or may not be a registered pharmacy professional, understanding that pharmacy professionals must prioritise patient safety over organisational goals

The draft guidance was informed by feedback from pharmacy professionals, including through its online workshops looking at quality in pharmacy.

The GPhC’s governing council will consider the responses to the consultation after it closes in October and will then aim to agree the new guidance and framework by the end of 2017. In the meantime, the current policy on minimum training requirements continues to apply.

The consultation can be accessed here.

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