The NHS Regulations permit pharmacies to apply for an urgent relocation if they have to suspend services for a reason beyond their control. We have seen a number of applications for urgent relocations, for example because landlords have refused to grant a new lease because the landlord intends to demolish the building in which the pharmacy is located. In some cases, NHS England has misunderstood the law and has wrongly refused applications, so care is needed when seeking a temporary relocation.
The CQC seems to have suddenly woken up to the fact that it is responsible for regulating prescribing through online pharmacies. As if pharmacy needed yet another regulator! You may have read coverage in C&D about how one online pharmacy has voluntarily closed down, and another has been suspended because of an alleged lack of clinical competence. One of our clients was recently on the receiving end of a 9-hour inspection with five inspectors including 2 GPs. Our client was then given 24 hours to respond to issues that were raised, under the threat of having its registration removed.
Mind the Gap- Gender Pay Reporting
The Government is taking steps to address gender pay inequality at work which, according to a recent report by Deloitte, will not be closed until 2069.
Final regulations were published in December 2016 and come into force on 6 April 2017. The regulations will affect organisations with more than 250 employees with certain groups being excluded (those on sick leave or maternity leave, partners and LLP members).
The first gender pay reports must be published no later than 4 April 2018 and businesses and other organisations should be preparing for this now. There are a number of important legal requirements and both financial and reputational issues are at stake. We have already supported a number of clients in this area in conjunction with our team of HR consultants. We provide regular training to our clients on topical issues and practical steps through our Managing People Workshop series, involving:
- Providing practical guidance on the steps needed to comply with your obligations, including how to calculate pay bands
- Discussing ways to present the data including the use of contextual narratives to accompany it
- Providing guidance on communicating with your employees about the process and the outcome
GPhC Consultation on Threshold Criteria
The General Pharmaceutical Council has just completed a consultation on the criteria it uses to decide whether to refer cases for possible fitness to practise proceedings.
We submitted a response, pointing out amongst other things that currently, even when it is clear that fitness to practise could not be found to be impaired, registrants are asked by the GPhC to respond to allegations in writing. Instead, the GPhC should identify cases in which, even if the reported facts are true, fitness to practise could not be found to be impaired. In those cases, the registrant should be informed that the concern had been received but that the threshold criteria were not met so the file is being closed.
GPhC Standards and Guidance on Religion, Personal Values and Beliefs
The GPhC has just completed a consultation on religion, personal values and beliefs. The GPhC proposes that pharmacy professionals should not be able to refuse services based on their religion, personal values or beliefs, as it would contradict the principle of person-centred care. In particular, the GPhC proposes that, regardless of religious beliefs, pharmacists should have to make sure people receive the care they need as a priority.
In our response to the consultation, we have expressed concern that in at least some circumstances, the new standards and guidance could be disproportionately onerous, and may unfairly expose pharmacy professionals to the risk of fitness to practise proceedings despite their own entitlement to respect for their beliefs. For example, not all services sought by a patient mean the request should be prioritised. The GPhC proposes to introduce guidance that if pharmacists would be unwilling to meet certain patient needs, they should not "take up certain working roles". This guidance may be disproportionately restrictive.
It's a Deal
It has been a busy period for pharmacy sales and purchases by clients of all shapes and sizes. We have a high volume of transactions in progress for completion over the coming months. Transactions recently concluded include:-
- Sale of Nottinghamshire based Stapleford Pharmacy to PCT Healthcare (Holdings) Ltd for HI Weldrick Ltd (brokered by Alliance Valuers)
- Purchase of share capital of South West based distance selling pharmacy operator
- Sale of Tonbridge based Thompsons Chemist Ltd to Worthing Pharmacies Limited and associated property arrangements (brokered by Christie & co)
- Sale of Welsh based pharmacy operator Aneurin Evans Ltd to Magawell Limited (sale brokered by Hutchings Consultants)