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New GPhC threshold criteria for fitness to practise investigations

Posted: Sunday, February 4th, 2018

Following a consultation, the GPhC has now published new threshold criteria which apply to all decisions whether to refer a case to its Investigating Committee.  The new criteria is available on the GPhC's website.

The GPhC says "the new criteria will help make sure that a proportionate, fair and consistent approach is taken when making decisions once our investigation concludes."

Decriminalisation of dispensing errors draws nearer

Posted: Thursday, February 1st, 2018

Following Parliamentary approval in December, the Order giving effect to statutory defences to prosceutiions under section 64 of the Medicines Act when a dispensing error is made is due to go before the Privy Council on 8 February 2018.

The Department of Health and Social Care says the Government and Devolved Administrations intend to bring the defences into force - via a commencement order - as soon as practically possible after Privy Council consideration.

At the annual PLEA seminar on 16 May 2018, David Reissner and Noel Wardle will be presenting a mini court hearing, testing the application of the new statutory defences.

Social media use - professional conduct trumps freedom of religion and freedom of expression

Posted: Friday, January 26th, 2018

David Reissner's Chemist & Druggist article on professional conduct and social media use is now out. It concerns a case in which posts reflecting genuinely held religious beliefs and the right to freedom of expression lost out to how people might perceive a would-be healthcare professional. As a result, he lost his career. A troubling case? The article is on the C&D website, or it can be viewed here


GMC appeals is own tribunal panel decision and wins

Posted: Thursday, January 25th, 2018

The GMC has appealed a decision from the Medical Practitioners Tribunal (MPT), the independent medical FtP panel. The MPT awarded a sanction of 12-month suspension from the register. The GMC appealed on the grounds that the outcome was too lenient and would not uphold public confidence in the profession. The GMC has won its appeal and the registrant has been removed from the register.

Pulse has produced this article on the case.

This finding could suggest that the "public confidence in the profession" test may carry more weight in the future. (MB)

Karen Pitchford - Update

Posted: Friday, January 19th, 2018

Karen Pitchford

Earlier this week we announced the sad passing of Karen Pitchford on Saturday 13 January.

Karen's funeral will take place on Friday 2nd February at 14:00 at Springwood Crematorium, Liverpool L25 7UN.

In lieu of flowers, people are being asked for donations to the Whitechapel Centre ( There is a page for donations:

Sad News

Posted: Monday, January 15th, 2018

Karen Pitchford

It is with great sadness that we must notify you of the death of Karen Pitchford, one of our members. Karen passed away suddenly and without warning on Saturday 13 January.

Karen was a well known academic in the UK Pharmacy Law arena and was recent co-author of the 11th edition of "Dale and Appelbe's Pharmacy and Medicines Law" with Joy Wingfield.

Karen was most recently a Senior Teaching Fellow at Aston University. She qualified as a pharmacist in 1993 working in community pharmacy and as a Teacher Practitioner at Liverpool John Moores University. She moved to DeMontfort University in 2002 and then most recently to Aston University in early 2017. 

Karen always had time for everyone, inspiring many to have an interest in pharmacy law and will be sadly missed. PLEA wishes to extend our thoughts to Paul, her husband, and all those who knew Karen. A great loss to our community.

We will update as and when we have further details.

Research request - pharmacists' perceptions of new GPhC Guidance and Standards

Posted: Thursday, January 11th, 2018

Dr Sara Fovargue of Lancaster University and Dr Mary Neal of Strathclyde Unviersity are undertaking a pilot study looking at pharmacists' perceptions of the new GPhC Guidance and Standards relating to personal values in professional practice, and exploring their views about the role of personal values in professional practice, and the concept of 'person-centred care' more generally. They hope that this pilot study will lead to a wider study involving more participants from a number of other relevant professions. 

The project forms part of wider research on conscientious objection in healthcare. Further information about the pilot study can be found on the project website: other pages give information about the researchers, and how to contact them.

Participation in the project will consist of a semi-structured interview, either in person or (where that's not possible) via Skype, conducted either by Dr Fovargue or Dr Neal. This format is designed to give participants space to discuss their experiences and views as freely as possible.

Interviews will be recorded, and each participant will be interviewed separately. We will not disclose the identity of participants to one another or to anyone else, or communicate in such a way as to reveal this. Only Dr Fovargue and Dr Neal will know who the participants are.  The information gathered from the interviews will be transcribed and stored anonymously, and when they refer to it and/or quote it in published outputs, they will not use real names or reveal anything which would risk readers being able to identify the participants.

Boots: Pharmacists under pressure?

Posted: Wednesday, January 3rd, 2018

Your attention is drawn to a BBC1 programme with the above title going out at 7.30 pm on Monday 8th January. I provided some footage but it may not be used; I am not sure if this broadcast is available in all regions or just in the East Midlands. It's an "Inside Out Special". Set your recorder! (or whatever gismo you prefer). I know I said I wouldn't post anything else but I lied. Joy

When is a medicinal product not a medicinal product?

Posted: Thursday, December 7th, 2017

Susan Hunneball's article on the Court of Appeal decision in R v Chapman and others [2017] EWCA Crim 319 is online at Pharmacy Business and in the December edition of the magazine. The Defendants had been prosecuted for possession of nitrous oxide with intent to supply. Although nitrous oxide is a medicinal product when used for medical treatment, the court ruled that since the intended supply was not for medicinal purposes, it was not a medicinal product in the present case. 

Parliamentary debates on decriminalisation

Posted: Sunday, December 3rd, 2017

It appears that on 4 December 2017, the House of Commons is due to debate the introduction of a statutory defence to section 64 of the Medicines Act - supplying a medicine that is not of the nature or quality demanded, to the prejudice of the patient. The House of Lords is due to debate the proposal on 6 December.  If both Houses give approval, one of the main hurdles to the introduction of the statutory defence will have been cleared.

The remaining hurdles are Privy Council approval and then the appointment of a date for the defence to come into force.  There is an additional hurdle in Northern Ireland (which doesn't have a functioning devolved government at present): approval by the Deparment of Health, Social Services and Public Safety. 


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These news items are not exhaustive but are selected according to their relevance to pharmacy practice, NHS community pharmacy contracts and the regulation of the pharmacy profession. If you wish to add any items that you think we have missed, contact our news editor.