The General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) has issued new guidance for pharmacy professionals relating to situations in which their religion, personal values or beliefs might impact on their willingness to provide certain services.

This is the first major guidance review carried out by the Council since its new standards for pharmacy professionals were introduced in May. It relates to standard 1: Pharmacy professionals must provide person-centred care

P3 reported earlier in the year on a consultation over proposed guidance that pharmacists should ‘recognise their own values and beliefs but not impose them on other people’ and ‘take responsibility for ensuring that person-centred care is not compromised because of personal values and beliefs’.

The guidance was the subject of a major consultation

The GPhC says respondents to the consultation commented that the guidance would be relevant to a ‘wide range of services’ – not just the supply of emergency hormonal contraception.

The guidance states that while referral is still an option, it may not always be sufficient; for example, if a service is not accessible or available elsewhere or if, due to the person’s vulnerability, a referral would effectively obstruct timely access to the service.

GPhC chief executive Duncan Rudkin said:  “We recognise and respect that a pharmacy professional’s religion, personal values and beliefs are often central to their lives and can make a positive contribution to their providing safe and effective care to a diverse population.

“This guidance is intended to reflect the broad range of situations when a pharmacy professional’s religion, personal values or beliefs might impact on their willingness to provide certain services. It will support pharmacy professionals to make good decisions and provide person-centred care, within the legal framework. 

“We would encourage all pharmacy professionals and owners to be familiar with this guidance and, where necessary, seek further independent advice and support.”

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