GPhC respond to concerns about the impact of automation and online pharmacy provision on patient safety and pharmacy practice

The General Pharmaceutical Council has responded to an open letter sent on behalf of PDA members which highlighted areas of concern which could have an impact on patient safety.

Wed 8th December 2021 The PDA

Duncan Rudkin, the Cheif Executive of the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC), has replied to the PDA letter which raised concerns about the impact of automation and online pharmacy provision on patient safety and pharmacy practice.

The PDA open letter was submitted on behalf of members to the GPhC to highlight areas of concern which could have an impact on patient safety following a recent and significant increase in calls regarding on line pharmacy service provision and the deployment of certain automation technologies as part of the medicines supply operations.

Thsi is an important issue.  You can read the PDA’s open letter of 26 November here

You can read the reply from the  GPhC  below ;

From:  Duncan Rudkin, Chief Executive, General Pharmaceutical Council

To: Mark Koziol, Chairman, PDA


Dear Mark

Thank you for bringing together the matters raised by some of your members in your letter of 26th
November to our attention. It is important that we continue to understand and consider the impact of
automation and online pharmacy provision on patient safety and pharmacy practice now and as it
evolves. Hearing from those working first-hand within technology-based operations is particularly
helpful and provides valuable insights.

The concerns raised are of clear interest to us, not only with regards to the potential immediate
operational patient safety concerns, but also by way of broader implications for our wider policy work
and how we regulate going forwards. They also raise important questions for other organisations who
also have a role in regulating, establishing quality and professional standards as well as improvement.

We are seeing delivery models for pharmacy services changing fast, including in the use of technology,
automation and artificial intelligence (AI). In line with our Vision 2030 our position remains that
regulation should not stand in the way of innovation, but it needs to be consistent with the legal
framework, and the outcomes must meet our standards. Our Vision also recognises that our regulatory
standards framework needs to be adaptable to meet the changing needs of pharmacy to ensure the safe
and effective delivery of pharmacy services to patients. Your letter is helpful in informing some of the
work being planned within our Strategic Plan, including how we regulate. As part of that work, we would
of course also want to understand the public’s perspectives and expectations in this area.

Given the number and range of concerns raised in your letter, some of which are complex and
interrelated, we will take some time to review the information you have provided and carefully consider
what regulatory activities would be most appropriate to take, how and when. The concerns you raise
are likely to be of interest to a number of other organisations who have a direct remit or interest in
these areas. This may need to include some collaborative work going forwards.

In the short term we will be looking into the concerns raised about existing pharmacy operations that
may present current risks to patient safety. This will also be helpful to better inform further regulatory

I will look to update you as we progress matters.

Thank you again for forwarding the concerns.

Download the GPhC reply here:

thumbnail of 20211203 Letter to Mark Koziol


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The Pharmacists' Defence Association is an appointed representative in respect of insurance mediation activities only of
The Pharmacy Insurance Agency Limited which is registered in England and Wales under company number 2591975
and is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (Register No 307063)

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