Registrants asked GPhC for clarity over possible strike action
By Neil Trainis
The General Pharmaceutical Council has said it reminded registrants last week to continue meeting its standards for pharmacy professionals amid talk of possible strike action after they urged the regulator to clarify its position on the matter.
The GPhC told Independent Community Pharmacist that registrants got in touch with it to understand what ramifications industrial action might have in relation to its standards which prompted it to release a statement on Friday.
The disgruntlement within community pharmacy at a lack of funding was compounded by the government’s decision last month to give NHS workers the biggest pay rise in 20 years. PSNC chief executive Janet Morrison said it was a "slap in the face" to underfunded pharmacies.
In its statement, the GPhC said industrial action was "primarily a matter for discussion between employers, employees and their representative organisations" and added pharmacy professionals had "a democratic right to express support for their trade unions” including the "right to support and take part in lawful industrial action."
However, the regulator also said registrants were "personally accountable" for meeting its standards and "must be able to justify the decisions they make."
"We expect all pharmacy professionals to consider these standards, their legal duties and any relevant guidance when making decisions at all times," the GPhC said.
It is not the first time industrial action has been mentioned within community pharmacy. Last year, National Pharmacy Association chairman Andrew Lane told a national newspaper that some of its members were considering strike action over the government's refusal to write off £370m in advanced funding as debts pushed many pharmacies to the brink of closure.
The GPhC, which said it would “monitor developments as they arise,” told ICP: "We decided to issue a statement after receiving some queries about our position on industrial action from registered pharmacy professionals.
"The statement was also prompted by wider discussion and speculation (including in the pharmacy trade media) about whether health professionals working in the NHS or contracted by the NHS, including pharmacists and pharmacy technicians, could decide to take industrial action in the future."