The General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC), the new independent regulator for pharmacists, pharmacy technicians and pharmacy premises, launched on 27 September 2010. The establishment of the GPhC will lead to changes to the way in which the profession is regulated.

While these changes will be important to the pharmacy professions, knowledge of the changes is equally important to employers and other professions involved in the delivery of healthcare.  

With over 55.00 pharmacists and pharmacy technicians actively involved in healthcare delivery 7,500 of which practise in 320 hospital pharmacies in England, Scotland and Wales the NHS needs to be aware of how the launch of the GPhC will impact on its workforce.

The GPhC was established to separate regulation of the professions from professional leadership. The move brings pharmacy into line with the other healthcare professions which are regulated by independent bodies. The remit of the new regulator is to protect, promote and maintain the health, safety and wellbeing of patients and of those who use pharmaceutical services by assuring the maintenance and development of safe and effective pharmacy practise in England, Scotland and Wales.

What is changing?


Registration is changing with the result that the process will be more akin to obtaining a license to practise which requires renewal before the date of expiry, as opposed to a membership led approach under the former regulator The Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain. Registration now requires individuals to confirm their fitness to practice and their ability to meet key criteria.

As a result pharmacy professionals wishing to practise in 2011 must complete their renewal documentation and pay the appropriate fee by 30 November 2010. Failure to do so by this date will mean that registration will lapse and individuals will not be entitled to practise in 2011.

From 27 September 2010 too, all current practising pharmacists will become GPhC registrants. They will be issued with a new, unique registration number. Former RPSGB registration numbers and certificates of registration will cease to be valid from this date.

Pharmacy technicians

Pharmacy technicians have been able to join the RPSGB register since July 2009. All current practising pharmacy technician registrants will transfer and become GPhC registrants from 27 September 2010. Pharmacy technicians who have not yet joined the register and who have the appropriate experience and vocational qualifications, have until 30 June 2011 to register with the GPhC. After this date any pharmacy technicians wishing to join the register will need specific and approved qualifications before registration is permitted.

Superintendent pharmacists and pharmacy owners

For the first time, interim standards have been developed for superintendent pharmacists and pharmacy owners in order to protect patients and the public and to promote safe and effective practise of pharmacy in registered premises. From 2010, standards will have to be met in areas such as: condition of the pharmacy; condition of storage of medicinal products; availability and condition of facilities and equipment; staff training and use of the establishment as a training facility.

Pharmacy premises

The process for renewal of registration of pharmacy premises is also changing. As with individual registrations, renewal of premises registration for 2011 must be complete by 30 November 2010. Premises registration numbers will not change.

Continuing professional development

Continuing professional development becomes a legal requirement for all pharmacy professionals. They will be expected to keep records of all CPD activity which the GPhC can call upon to review. Pharmacy professionals who cannot demonstrate that they meet the standards for CPD risk removal from the register. 

Key facts

  • All pharmacists need to be aware of the registration changes and renew  registration for 2011 before the deadline of 30 November 2010
  • New registration numbers have been issued for all pharmacists and pharmacy technicians
  • Pharmacy technicians should register with the GPhC by the 30 June 2011. If they have not registered by this date they will cease to be able to use the title ‘pharmacy technician’ and further training and qualifications will be needed in order to register
  • Pharmacy superintendents should be aware of the new standards and of any changes that must be made to ensure the pharmacy meets these standards
  • Renewal of pharmacy premises registration for 2011  must be complete by 30 November 2010
  • Continuing professional development becomes a legal requirement for all pharmacists and pharmacy technicians