July 2011 sees more of the changes in pharmacy regulation as a result of the establishment of the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) as an independent regulator in September 2010. The GPhC’s remit is to protect, promote and maintain the health, safety and well being of patients and those who use pharmaceutical services. From 27 September 2010, the GPhC has regulated pharmacists, pharmacy technicians and pharmacy premises.

On 1 July 2011 the deadline expired for the compulsory registration of pharmacy technicians. The GPhC had been encouraging all pharmacy technicians yet to register to do so. This being the first registration of pharmacy technicians, the GPhC was unsure of the volume of applications it was going to receive and was hoping to avoid a last minute surge with the attendant possibility that some formal registrations were not going to be processed until after the deadline. Pharmacy technicians with work experience and an approved qualification were to be able to apply to join the register until 30 June 2011. After this date, any technicians wanting to join needed specific competency and knowledge based qualifications.

On 2 July 2011, new legislation came into force exercising the powers of the GPhC, conferred by the Pharmacy Order 2010, to regulate the standards in Continuing Professional Development (CPD) of its registrants. This is one of the legislative changes that are following on from the establishment of the GPhC as regulator.

The legislation regarding CPD requirements is set out in the General Pharmaceutical Council (Continuing Professional Development and Consequential Amendments) Rules Order of Council 2011 (the order). The schedule to the order sets out the circumstances under which registrants are regarded as having failed to comply with the requirements of the CPD framework. These circumstances are laid out by reference to scenarios where the registrant has, in the opinion of the registrar, been non-compliant. Accurate recording of CPD undertaken and submission of a CPD record are fundamental as well as the time spent, quality and relevance of CPD to individual learning need. The GPhC’s CPD standards apply to all pharmacy professionals.

Also set out in the order are the steps which the registrar may make in cases of default. The options open to the registrar are to impose remedial measures on the registrant’s CPD, or in certain instances to remove the registrant’s entry from the register or to remove an annotation in respect of a specialisation made to the registrant’s entry in the register. The order sets out the procedural rules to be followed where the registrar decides to take such further action.

In the meantime, the GPhC has expressed itself pleased at the report it has received from the Council of Healthcare Regulatory Excellence (CHRE), following an audit of its legacy cases inherited from the previous regulator, the Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain. The report noted that the GPhC’s application of the legacy criteria in the cases audited had been “reasonable, had adequately protected the public and would maintain confidence in the profession and system of regulation”. The GPhC is without doubt intent on building on what it regards as a promising start.