Complaints Process

When your complaint has been received, the PSI will:

  • Write to you and tell you that your complaint has been received
  • Send a copy of your complaint to the pharmacist or retail pharmacy business involved
  • Give the pharmacist or pharmacy owner an opportunity to provide observations and comments in relation to your complaint within a certain period
  • Send you a copy of the observations or comments received from the pharmacist or pharmacy owner for further comment
  • Any further comments or observations received from you will be furnished to the pharmacist or pharmacy owners for further and final comment.

The Preliminary Proceedings Committee (PPC) will then consider your complaint and may request further information and/or documentation from you, the pharmacist or the retail pharmacy business.

When the PPC is satisfied that it has sufficient information it will then decide if further action is warranted in relation to a complaint.

It will advise the Council of the PSI at the next available opportunity as to its decision.

If the PPC advises Council that no further action is warranted. The Council may decide to accept the advice of the PPC or it may come to a different view in relation to your complaint and decide that there is sufficient cause to warrant further action.

If the PPC advises Council that there is sufficient cause to warrant further action, then a decision will be made by the PPC to either refer your complaint to mediation or to a Committee of Inquiry.

There are two Committees of Inquiry to which a complaint may be referred:

(i) Professional Conduct Committee

(ii) The Health Committee

The choice of committee will depend on the nature of the complaint.

Complaints which concern matters of professional misconduct or poor professional performance will normally be referred to the Professional Conduct Committee.

Complaints which concern impairment of a pharmacist’s ability to practise because of a physical or mental ailment, emotional disturbance or an addiction to alcohol or drugs will normally be referred to the Health Committee.

A hearing before a Committee of Inquiry is similar to a hearing before a court or tribunal.

Inquiries conducted by the Professional Conduct Committee will normally be held in public. This means that members of the public (including the press) can attend. Inquiries conducted by the Health Committee will normally be held in private.

An application to hold an Inquiry in private or in public as the case may be can be made by the Complainant or by the pharmacist or the pharmacy owner concerned. Such an application will be granted where the Committee is satisfied that it would be appropriate to agree to the request.

At the conclusion of the Inquiry, the Committee will make a decision as to whether the complaint has been substantiated. The committee will prepare a report setting out the subject matter of the complaint, the evidence presented and the committee's findings. It is the Council which will then decide what, if any, sanctions to impose. 

Review of the Complaints Process

The PSI is committed to ensuring that the complaints process is as efficient and accessible as possible, for both complainants and respondents.  In November 2015 the PSI conducted a review of the administrative processes underpinning the complaints process operated by the PSI.  The purpose of the review was to:

  • Improve the accessibility of the complaints process
  • Ensure the most efficient processes are in place
  • Minimise the potential stress that the process may cause to the parties involved
  • Get an independent perspective on the process from both complainants and respondents

The Fitness to Practise Unit of the PSI met with independent pharmacists and a patient advocate for the purposes of seeking feedback on the complaints process and prepared a report outlining the findings from the review. The PSI is committed to implementing the recommendations from the report, in so far as possible, within the confines of the Pharmacy Act 2007.

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