Pharmacists

Hylton-Potts - London Based Law Firm Helping People Across the UK since 1999

If you are a pharmacist, pharmacy technician or operate pharmacy premises, and have a professional problem we can help you.

Contact the team of medico-legal advisers, on the Free Legal Helpline number 020 7381 8111 or email law@hylton-potts.com

Specialist Lawyer

Rodney Hylton-Potts is highly experienced in advising and helping pharmacists, pharmacy technicians and those who operate pharmacy premises. He has a high success rate in obtaining the very best possible results for those involved in proceedings before The Royal Pharmaceutical Society and The General Pharmaceutical Council

He fights for his clients. Call for a free consultation and advice in relation to any pharmacy matter. What have you got to lose?

Pharmacists Consult the experts.
Call for a free consultation and advice in relation to any pharmacy matter. What have you got to lose?

We deal with primary care NHS applications.

Free Legal Helpline.

PHONE 020 7381 8111 OR EMAIL law@hylton-potts.com

Help with Employer and Disciplinary Procedures
Complex procedures

This is a reminder of the complexity of the contractual disciplinary procedures that apply to employment , and the potential legal consequences if they are not followed properly.

Sometimes employees are entitled to legal representation in disciplinary proceedings.

We can turn this to your advantage. You are not alone.

Free Legal Helpline.
PHONE 020 7381 8111 OR EMAIL law@hylton-potts.com

Summary of the disciplinary and regulatory framework.

The Royal Pharmaceutical Society is the dedicated professional body for pharmacists in England, Scotland and Wales. – http://www.rpharms.com/home/home.asp providing leadership and support, education and training.

The General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) is the regulator for pharmacists, pharmacy technicians and pharmacy premises in England, Scotland and Wales.. – www.pharmacyregulation.org –

GPhC is responsible for setting standards that ensure the safe effective practice of pharmacy. It is also responsible for setting the education and training standards for pharmacy professionals.

GPhCr standards are intended to protect patient safety and are written so that they are outcome focussed and enable innovation.

GPhC standards comprise:

  • Standards of conduct, ethics and performance
  • Standards for owners and superintendent pharmacists of retail pharmacy businesses
  • Standards for continuing professional development (CPD)
  • Standards for the initial education and training for pharmacists
  • Standards for the initial education and training for pharmacy technicians
  • Standards of proficiency

The GPhC is responsible for setting the standards of practice that are expected of all pharmacists and pharmacy technicians (“registrants”). The GPhC also enforces certain legislation relating to medicines, such as parts of the Medicines Act 1968.

As well as setting standards of practice, the GPhC is responsible for ensuring that these standards are met. The GPhC upholds standards in the following three ways:

  • GPhC Inspectors visit registered pharmacies to monitor and secure compliance with the standards.
  • The GPhC investigates complaints about registrants and issues advice and guidance where appropriate.
  • If a registrant’s fitness to practise is impaired, the GPhC can restrict or remove their ability to practise.

The public raising concerns about pharmacists, pharmacy technicians and pharmacy premises – the GPhC investigates complaints where a registrant’s fitness to practise is called into question. The GPhC considers a registrant fit to practise when they can demonstrate the skills, knowledge, character and health required to do their job safely and effectively. If you are concerned that a registrant is not fit to practice, you can make a formal complaint to the GPhC. The GPhC also deals with complaints involving registered pharmacy premises where there are concerns about safe and effective pharmacy practice.

Hearings and decisions –

If a complaint is investigated and it is found that a registrants fitness to practise may be impaired it may have to be heard by a committee. These committees can then make decisions which may result in sanctions.

There are various committees with different sanctions available to them.

The Committees

This section provides detailed information about each of the committees, their rules and procedures and the decisions of the committees where applicable.

Appeals committee

In some instances a registrant may appeal a decision taken against them by the fitness to practise committee. This page gives details of those circumstances as well as information about the committee itself.

Investigating committee

Essentially, the Investigating Committee is a screening committee; it meets in private and does not hear oral evidence. It is required to consider all cases referred to it and decide whether the allegation ought to be considered by the Fitness to Practise Committee.

Before disposing of any allegation before it, the Investigating Committee must consider all documents and recommendations placed before it by the Registrar and also have regard to its own published referral criteria. The Committee will also consider any written submissions made by the registrant involved in the allegation.

In addition, the Investigating Committee may direct that further investigations should be undertaken, obtain advice from a legal, clinical or other specialist adviser and adjourn consideration of the allegation until any further information has been obtained, any comments from the informant, if any are received, or any reports where the person concerned has undergone a medical examination.

After consideration of the allegation and any relevant information in relation to it, the Investigating Committee’s powers are as follows:

(i) to issue a warning to the person concerned
(ii) to issue advice to the person concerned
(iii) to issue advice to any other person or body involved in its investigation
(iv) to dismiss the case
(v) in relation to a health allegation, to require the person concerned to undergo a medical examination
(vi) to agree undertakings
(vii) to refer the matter to the Fitness to Practise Committee
(viii) to initiate criminal proceedings

Procedures

Once the Registrar has taken a decision to refer a fitness to practise allegation or a disqualification allegation to the Investigating Committee the person concerned must receive the following:

  • A notice of referral to the Investigating Committee
  • Copies of all documentation, including summaries or relevant information to be placed before the Investigating Committee
  • A copy of the Threshold Criteria

The notice of referral must:

  • Particularise the allegation
  • Set out any recommendations for disposal of the case made by the Registrar
  • Specify a date for the Investigating Committee meeting where they will consider the allegation which must be no less than 28 days after the date of service of the notice of referral
  • Inform the registrant of the Investigating Committee’s powers
  • Invite the registrant to indicate no later than 21 days after the date of service of the notice whether the particulars of the allegation are admitted or denied
  • Invite written representations from the registrant no later than 21 days from the service of the notice
  • Inform the registrant that any written representations may be shown to the informant, if any, for comment
  • Inform the registrant that the Investigating Committee may seek further information from any source for the purposes of carrying out its functions, including from the registrant’s employer.

Once the Investigating Committee has considered an allegation the registrant concerned must be informed of the decision made by the Committee no later than 10 days after the date which the decision was made. The notice must include the reasons for the decision and be accompanied by any legal advice considered by the Investigating Committee.

Where the Investigating Committee has decided not to refer an allegation to the Committee the notice must inform the registrant that the Investigating Committee may nevertheless reconsider the allegation in the circumstances set out in rule 12.

Fitness to practise committee

The Fitness to Practise Committee is required to consider all cases referred to it. Where an allegation or matter is referred to the Fitness to Practise Committee the Committee must determine whether or not the fitness to practise of the person in respect of whom the allegation is made is impaired.
The procedure for hearings before the Committee is set out in Part 6 of the General Pharmaceutical Council Fitness to Practise Rules Order of Council 2010. The Fitness to Practise Committee must hold hearings in public. Any hearings relating to a health allegation, or an interim order hearing, must be held in private, unless the Committee is satisfied that the public interest in holding a public hearing outweighs the interest of the registrant concerned or the third party in maintaining their privacy (Rule 39). The Committee may receive any evidence (including oral evidence) subject only to the requirements of relevance and fairness (Rule 24). The Committee may take a breach of the standards of conduct, ethics and performance into account when deciding whether or not the registrant’s fitness to practise is impaired (Rule 24(11)). The Committee uses the civil standard of proof (Rule 42).

Service of documents

Before a hearing is held, as soon as is reasonably practicable after the date on which the registrant is given notice of the referral to the Fitness to Practise Committee, the Council must serve on the person concerned the documents as set out in rule 14(1). Then, as soon as is reasonably practicable after the date of service of the documents set out in rule 14(1) the person concerned must serve on the committee secretary an agreed time estimate for the duration of the hearing and a completed listing questionnaire.

The standard case management/practice direction set out case management directions for cases being heard under the 2010 rules. The directions will apply to all cases, unless either the council or the registrant applies for different directions to be made. For the most part, the directions reflect the rules themselves, but importantly, sets out what the committee considers to be ‘as soon as reasonably practical’ for each party to serve key documents enabling cases to progress. Assuming all parties work within the directions issued by the chair of the fitness to practise committee, it should be possible to bring cases to hearing within seven months of referral by the investigating committee.

Case management meetings

At any time before the commencement of a hearing either party may serve on the secretary and the other party a written request for a case management meeting. The request must state why the party is seeking a case management meeting, state what directions are sought for the management of the case and state whether the person making the request seeks the participation of the parties at the meeting or whether the issues can be dealt with without oral representations. The Committee secretary then sends a copy of the request, together with any other material considered relevant, to the chair. The chair must agree to the request unless he determines it is unnecessary or the request is an abuse of process (rules 19, 20 and 21).

Notices of hearing and costs

A Notice of Hearing must be served on the registrant, not less than 28 days in advance of the hearing, unless the registrant agrees otherwise (rule 16).

No less than twenty-four hours before the hearing, the parties are required to exchange a schedule of costs and to serve a copy of their schedules on the Committee Secretariat (rule 46(1)).

Decisions of the Committee

If the Fitness to Practise Committee determines that the fitness to practise of the person concerned is impaired, it may:

  • give a warning to the person concerned in connection with any matter arising out of, or related to, the allegation and give a direction that details of the warning be recorded in the Register;
  • give advice to any other person or other body involved in the investigation of the allegation on any issue arising out of, or related to, the allegation;
  • give a direction that the entry in the Register of the person concerned be removed;
  • give a direction that the entry in the Register of the person concerned be suspended, for such period not exceeding 12 months as may be specified in the direction; or
  • give a direction that the entry in the Register of the person concerned be conditional upon that person complying, during such period not exceeding 3 years as may be specified in the direction, with such requirements specified in the direction as the Committee thinks fit to impose for the protection of the public or otherwise in the public interest or in the interests of the person concerned.

The Registrar must notify the registrant of any decision made by the Committee, together with the reasons for that decision and any right of appeal under article 58 (Article 54(8)). In practice, this will be done by the Committee Secretariat. Where possible the decision will be sent the next working day after the decision is made.

Interim Orders

Under Article 56, where the Fitness to Practise Committee is satisfied that:

it is necessary for the protection of members of the public or;

is otherwise in the public interest or;

is in the interests of the registrant

for an entry in the Register relating to a registrant to be suspended or to be made subject to conditions, the Committee may make an order that the entry in question be suspended for a period not exceeding 18 months or that the entry in question be conditional upon the registrant complying, for a period not exceeding 18 months, with such requirements as the Committee thinks fit to impose. The procedure at interim order hearings is set out under rule 36.

After the Committee has made an order, the Committee must review it within 6 months unless the person concerned requests an earlier review.

Appealing the Committee’s decision

Anyone wishing to appeal a decision of the Committee must appeal directly to the relevant Court

Sanctions

This section describes the sorts of sanctions the fitness to practise committee can take against a registrant if their fitness to practise is found to be impaired.

Investigating Committee

If a fitness to practise allegation is referred by the Registrar to the Investigating Committee, the committee must decide whether the case needs to be considered by the Fitness to Practise Committee.

If the Investigating Committee determines that the case does not need to be referred, it may:

  • dismiss the case
  • give a warning to the registrant and decide that details of the warning should be recorded in the register
  • give advise to the registrant, or any other person or organisation involved in the investigation
  • agree undertakings with the registrant
  • decide that a criminal prosecution should be initiated.

The Investigating Committee can also, in a health case, request a registrant to undergo a medical examination.

However, if the Investigating committee believes that the Fitness to Practise Committee will consider that the registrant’s fitness to practice is impaired, it will refer the case to the Fitness to Practise Committee.

Please note that the Registrar may refer a case directly to the Fitness to Practise Committee. This could happen if, for example, the Registrar considers that the Committee should make an interim suspension order or needs to urgently consider a case (because it is in the public interest to do so).

Fitness to Practise Committee

If a fitness to practise allegation is referred to the Fitness to Practise Committee, the Committee must decide whether the registrant’s fitness to practise is impaired.

If the Committee determines that a registrant’s fitness to practise is impaired, it may:

  • give a warning to the registrant and decide that details of this warning should be recorded in the Register
  • give advice to any other person or organisation involved in the investigation
  • remove the registrant from the Register
  • suspend the registrant from the Register for up to 12 months
  • place conditions on the registrant’s registration for up to three years.

However, if the Fitness to Practise Committee decides that the fitness to practise of the person concerned is not impaired, it may:

  • give a warning to the registrant and decide that details of the warning should be recorded in the Register
  • give advice to the registrant, or any other person or organisation involved in the investigation

Please note that the Fitness to Practise Committee can also:

  • recommend that the GPhC Council to initiate criminal proceedings
  • require a registrant to undergo a medical examination (in a health case)

The General Pharmaceutical Council has power to impose conditions. Please see attached – click here

Homologation

This is the: granting of approval by an official authority, such as your professional body.

We can help have your degree or  qualification homologated to assist in the process of becoming registered

Challenging Exam Results

A disappointing result/grade or failure is not the end of the road.  Expert advice and the law can help you.

Examining bodies have duties. We operate highly competitive fixed fees.

Contact us by phone or email for a free expert opinion.

We can help with the Objective Structured Clinical Examination (OSCE ) a clinical skill performance and competence in skills such as communication, clinical examination, medical procedures / prescription, exercise prescription, joint mobilisation / manipulation techniques, radiographic positioning, radiographic image evaluation and interpretation of results. If you feel that you have been wrongly marked, we can advise and draft presentations for £495 including VAT

Consult the experts.

Call for a free consultation and advice in relation to any pharmacy matter. What have you got to lose?

Free Legal Helpline.

PHONE 020 7381 8111 OR EMAIL law@hylton-potts.com