Pharmacist helping woman

Importance of candour highlighted in new toolkits published by GPhC

The General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) have published two new resources that are designed to help pharmacists and pharmacy technicians “fulfil their duty of candour” and be open and honest with patients when there is potential for something to go wrong.

The new resources, named Keeping patients safe – being open and honest and Pharmacy team toolkit – learning from incidents, will centralise and standardise relevant and already existing policy, and any previous guidance on the professional obligations pharmacists and pharmacy technicians should live by, in relation to candour.

The main emphasis of the resources can be condensed down into the fact that being open and honest with patients is not a supplementary and optional action – it is a fundamental part of pharmacy professional practice.

Speaking at a roundtable meeting on the 13th of June, Gisela Abbam, Chair of the GPhC, said on this very topic: “All healthcare professionals have a duty of candour – this is a professional responsibility to be open and honest with patients when something goes wrong with their treatment or care which causes, or has the potential to cause, harm or distress.

“We know that pharmacy professionals are working in multi-disciplinary teams and taking on new clinical roles, and it’s important that they demonstrate the duty of candour in an increasing variety of complex situations.

“At our roundtable, we sought feedback on the new resources. We also discussed further actions that we can all take to make sure everyone working in pharmacy understands their responsibilities to be open and honest when things go wrong, and to improve patient safety.”

Given the link between liability and indemnity, the National Pharmacy Association and the Pharmacists’ Defence Association have also contributed to the two new toolkits, highlighting the importance of transparency in this context.

Head of Advice and Support Services for the National Pharmacy Association, Jasmine Shah, said: “We are striving to move away from a blame culture towards a learning culture. It is important to acknowledge when something goes wrong and to help the patient understand what happened. What we aim for is a resolution that is supportive both of the patients and professionals involved.”

More information about the two new resources is available here.

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