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GPhC consults on beliefs in pharmacy practice

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GPhC consults on beliefs in pharmacy practice

A consultation has been launched by GPhC on revised wording to the new standards for pharmacy professionals, on the impact that religion, personal values and beliefs may have on the decisions of pharmacy professionals in patient care.

The public must not be discriminated against by pharmacy professionals on the basis of beliefs, says GPhC. However, some pharmacy professionals may find themselves in a conflicting situation, for a range of reasons, suggested chief executive Duncan Rudkin, and this merits discussion within the profession, he told P3.

For example, cases where a pharmacist has refused to supply emergency hormonal contraception have reached the headlines in the past.

“This is a really important issue for those affected by it – whether that’s patients or employees who maybe feel very conflicted by a situation. It merits debate and discussion – to help us get the guidance right,” said Mr Rudkin.

Relevant wording in the Standards for Pharmacy Professionalism, to be implemented from May 2017, would now say that pharmacists and technicians should ‘Recognise their own values and beliefs but do not impose them on other people’ and Take responsibility for ensuring that person-centred care is not compromised because of personal values and beliefs’.

Discussion around the legal, ethical and practice issues involved for individuals and employers would be valuable for the profession, said Mr Rudkin, and helpful to the regulator in finalising the standards.

Employees who recognise such issues as important to them may choose to discuss this with their employer, he suggests. Employers have a responsibility to take such an issue seriously, on behalf of the pharmacy's patients and staff.

“Employers have to be very mindful of their legal obligations as employers to their staff. They have an obligation to provide an environment where professionalism can flourish, and this is one aspect of professionalism. Pharmacy teams are entitled to protection from discrimination on the grounds of religion or belief for example, just as much as patients are,” said Mr Rudkin.

“This topic highlights the range of legal responsibilities and duties that employers have – and we would certainly encourage teams and individuals for who this is more likely to be an issue to raise those issues, if they need to, with their employers to make sure that they’ve had any relevant conversations in advance rather than having to deal with a crisis.”


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