Eram, ergo sum? A 1-year retrospective study of General Pharmaceutical Council fitness to practise hearings

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Abstract

Objectives

The principal aims of this research were: to assess whether aggravating and mitigating circumstances considered by the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) when imposing sanctions are considered when determining impairment of fitness to practise and to determine whether those circumstances described by the GPhC in their Indicative Sanctions Guidance (ISG) as warranting erasure from the Register of Pharmacists lead to that outcome.

Methods

The consideration of specific aggravating circumstances or points of mitigation in determining impairment of fitness to practise were compared with their subsequent consideration when determining the severity of sanction. Additionally, the proportion of cases that highlighted aggravating circumstances deemed by the GPhC as serious enough to warrant the sanction of erasure were monitored to determine if they were more likely to give rise to this sanction.

Key findings

Fifty-one cases heard by the GPhC between 1 October 2011 and 30 September 2012 met with the inclusion criteria. Pearson's χ2 test was used to detect a variation from the expected distribution of data. Of the four aggravating/mitigating circumstances considered, all but one was more likely to be heard when determining sanction having first been factored in to the consideration of impairment. There was a statistically significant correlation between both risk of harm and dishonesty as aggravating factors and the sanction erasure from the Medical Register.

Conclusions

The GPhC do, in general, consider relevant factors at all stages of their deliberations into practitioner misconduct, as required by the determinations in the cases of Cohen, Zygmunt, and Azzam, and subsequently consider their ISG regarding dishonesty as an aggravating circumstance in determining which sanction to apply.

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