The new guidance of the General Pharmaceutical Council puts pressure on Christian professionals, says CEO of the Christian Medical Fellowship Peter J. Saunders.
It asks about the “wording on personal values and beliefs in the new standards for pharmacy professionals, and about the guidance on the behaviours expected of pharmacy professionals in applying the standards.”
“CHANGE THE EXPECTATIONS OF PHARMACY PROFFESIONALS”
“The proposals would change the expectations of pharmacy professionals when their religion, personal values or beliefs might, in certain circumstances, impact on their ability to provide services, and shift the balance in favour of the needs and rights of the person in their care”, the GPhC states.
It also says that pharmacists must "take responsibility for ensuring that person-centred care is not compromised because of personal values and beliefs".
The consultation on the draft proposal is open until 7 March 2017.
“UNNECESSARY AND POSSIBLY ILLEGAL”
Speaking ahead of the end of a consultation period on the guidance, the CEO of Christian Medical Fellowship, Dr Peter Saunders, has written a blogpost, describing the plans as "draconian, disproportionate, unethical, unnecessary and quite possibly illegal."
“It is therefore almost inconceivable that this draft proposal will not be challenged in court by an aggrieved individual or organisation”, he writes.
Dr Saunders warned the guidance could see pharmacists "pressured to comply or risk disciplinary procedures and/or possible loss of employment. Potential trainees could be dissuaded from pursuing a career in pharmacy altogether.”
PROTECTING THE RIGHTS OF PHARMACISTS
The CEO explains that “currently pharmacists have a right to refer these cases to another pharmacy or colleague, but under the new draft guidance, which the GPhC admits represents ‘a significant change from the present position’ this right would be removed.”
“Pharmacists are healthcare professionals in their own right. Accordingly, they deserve to be treated by their regulators with the respect due to their professional status. This latest proposal does not do that.”
He concludes by writing: "For the sake of professional freedom and reasonable accommodation, essential in a pluralist multi-faith democracy, let's hope that they choose instead a more flexible, tolerant, respectful and eminently sensible path."
GUIDANCE CLASHES WITH EQUALITY ACT
Pro-life organisation Right to Life has recently warned the proposed new guidance could contravene the Equality Act 2010.
Writing for Conservative Home, Chris Whitehouse said that “Christians would struggle to secure employment, it is only a matter of time before such careers are closed down as options for those who hold such views.”