The investigating committee (IC) makes independent decisions about the way forward in a case while the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) is the regulator for registered pharmacies, pharmacists and pharmacy technicians in the UK.
The guidance focuses on IC’s role with refreshed guidance on mitigating and aggravating factors. To make the guidance more consistent with other decision making documents, it has been rewritten for the purpose of bringing together relevant parts of the current guidance into one document. Changes have been made to the guidance to make it clearer and easier to follow for professional bodies when in the decision-making process.
The new guidance has been split into the following two sections:
Section A: The Investigating Committee
This part of the guidance clarifies how the role of the IC fits into the decision making process and how the IC reach a decision.
The Investigating Committee has the power to take various necessary steps following the investigation according to the allegations. The registrant is referred to an IC if the allegations against them meet the threshold criteria.
The available steps for the IC include:
- Requesting a medical examination
- Giving advice to the registrant
- Issuing warnings to the registrant
- Agree undertakings
- Inform the registrar that the GPhC should consider criminal proceedings
- Referring the case to the FTPC
- No action or case closure
The IC has the power to consider allegations that occur in both professional and personal life, as in either situation the profession can be brought into disrepute. However, the IC must consider the real prospect test before making any decision.
The Real Prospect Test
The IC must decide if there’s a real prospect that the FTPC will find the registrant’s fitness to practise is impaired and if there’s a real prospect of the facts being proven.
The case must be referred to the FTPC if the IC decides the real prospect test is met. The formal statement set out by the IC includes reasons for which they have made the decision.
The council has the burden of proving the alleged facts and the IC should consider this before making a decision.
Section B: Guidance on the Outcome
This part of the guidance highlights what the IC should consider before making a final decision for the outcome of the investigation.
The panel would need to assess whether the registrant’s fitness to practise is currently impaired without referring to when the incident occurred.
The relevant factors that should be taken into consideration by the IC include:
- Whether the registrant is a risk to the public
- Whether the registrant has breached a fundamental part of the profession of pharmacy
- Has the registrant’s conduct brought the pharmacy profession into disrepute
- Has the integrity of the registrant been brought into question
- The relevant mitigating and aggravating factors
Mitigation can be presented to the panel in different ways such as references and testimonials or evidence of remediation taken by the registrant.
The IC takes into consideration whether the authors of any references or testimonials presented were aware of the allegations when providing their testimonial.
The attitude and behaviour of the registrant before, during and after the incident is also important. For example, whether the registrant has taken steps to prevent reoccurrence of the event after the incident.
Any interested party is encouraged to respond to this consultation before 11th September 2015.
Read here for the most up to date information on GPhC investigations.