Raising a concern: pharmacy education and/or training

This fact sheet contains information for people who are unhappy with any aspect of their pharmacy education and/or training and would like to raise a concern.

The GPhC raising a concern procedure

Anyone can raise a concern using the new GPhC procedure. Examples of who might use it include:-

  • pharmacy students
  • pre-registration trainee pharmacists
  • pharmacists
  • pharmacy technicians
  • pre-registration pharmacy technicians
  • pharmacy dispensers
  • and counter assistants.

Pharmacy university courses

The following university courses have requirements that are set by the GPhC and students can raise concerns about these courses with the GPhC:-

  • Master of Pharmacy (MPharm) degrees
  • Overseas Pharmacists’ Assessment Programme (OSPAP)
  • Pharmacist prescribing programme.

Please note, the GPhC would ordinarily expect students to raise the matter first with the course provider or appropriate whistle-blowing body. The GPhC will not investigate:-

  • concerns about academic judgement, including marking, and passing or failing courses or modules
  • tuition fees and funding issues.

Students who are unhappy with the quality of their university course should, if possible, raise the issue first with the provider. All universities have a standard complaints procedure and students should initially use this in order to give the university the opportunity of remedying the situation.

Students who are not happy with the outcome of their complaint or who are unhappy with the way their complaint has been handled can consider raising the issue with Office of the Independent Adjudicator (OIA). This is the independent body set up to reviews students complaints and the system is free to students. The Complete University Guide lists the main reasons for complaints to the OIA which include:-

  • academic status, for example,  marks, progression between years and final decisions on degree classification
  • service issues, for example, the course or facilities not meeting expectations
  • financial issues, for example, disputes over fees charged
  • academic misconduct, for example plagiarism and cheating.

In most instances, student complaints are resolved satisfactorily by the education provider. If the complaint relates to the quality of a course or a fitness to practise issue about a member of staff who is a pharmacist or a technician, students may want to raise a concern with the GPhC.

Pre-registration training

Every year a small number of pre-registration trainees will encounter problems with their tutor and/or training placement. These can range from personal problems to issues relating to employment law. Whatever the problem, it is best to seek advice at the earliest possible opportunity.

At some point in our working lives, we might need to deal with people whom we just do not like or are simply unable to get along with. If trainees find that they are clashing with their tutor on a personal level, in the first instance it could be best to try to talk to the tutor. Whilst it may be difficult to approach a tutor, managing and resolving problems is a useful skill for all trainees to develop as their careers progress. Also, the GPhC expects trainees to demonstrate as one of their competencies the ability to handle conflict effectively. For further information on how to build positive workplace relationships, see our fact sheet.

If the problems with a tutor go beyond a simple personality clash, for example, if a trainee is being bullied, they may find it difficult to approach their tutor. In these instances trainees could try any of the following:-

  • enlist the help of a colleague to mediate
  • contact their HR department
  • talk to their trade union representative
  • follow their employer’s internal grievance procedures
  • contact Pharmacist Support for specialist employment advice.

If the issue is still not resolved, the trainee could consider raising a concern with the GPhC. Trainees should note that the GPhC will not usually investigate concerns about employment or contractual issues, for example hours of work or employment contracts. It will also not usually consider concerns about the four training progress reports written by tutors about their trainees during the pre-registration year.

Raising a concern

The GPhC has a form that can be completed and sent via e-mail or post. The form can be accessed via the GPhC website.

Forms can be e-mailed to educationconcerns@pharmacyregulation.org or posted to:-

Education concerns

C/0 The Education Team

General Pharmaceutical Council

25 Canada Square

London E14 5LQ.

If posting a complaint it is advisable to send it via recorded delivery.

In order to investigate concerns fully the GPhC will need the following information:-

  • contact details of the person raising the complaint
  • the name of the education or training provider involved
  • a summary of any incidents, issues and key facts
  • the details of any members of staff involved, for example, a pharmacist or technician
  • details of all complaints procedures that have already been used, and any findings if applicable
  • permission for the GPhC to send the details of your concern to the education or training provider.

The GPhC will not send personal information to the provider unless specifically asked to, however, depending on the nature of the concern, the education or training provider may be able to identify the complainant.

Anonymous concerns

The GPhC is willing to consider anonymous concerns however it may not be able to take any further action if it does not have enough relevant information. Depending on the issues raised,the GPhC may contact the education provider to give them an opportunity to respond. However, complainants who do not leave any contact details will not be kept up to date with any progress or outcome in relation to their concern. For further information on all aspects of raising a concern about pharmacy education or training, see the GPhC website.

Other useful organisations

British Pharmaceutical Students’ Association (BPSA)

Undergraduate students can become a joint member of the BPSA and the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) for free and take advantage of a range of services offered by both organisations. Pre-registration trainee membership of the BPSA is also free. The BPSA offer students and pre-registration trainees support and representation. For further information, see their website.

Pharmacists’ Defence Association (PDA)

Students and pre-registration trainees can join the PDA for free. As well as trade union membership, the PDA can also advise on legal, professional and ethical matters. For further information, see their website.