What Happens after a complaint is made

Complaints to the PSI are considered by the Preliminary Proceedings Committee (PPC) - the PSI's complaints screening committee.  If it is decided that there is case for further action, the matter may be referred to mediation or to inquiry.

When the PSI receives a written complaint, we will: 

  • write and tell the complainant that we have received it; 
  • send a copy of the complaint to the pharmacist or pharmacy; 
  • give the pharmacist or pharmacy owner an opportunity to provide comments in relation to the complaint; 
  • send the complainant a copy of the response of the pharmacist or pharmacy owner for further comment; 
  • send any further comments that the complainant makes to the pharmacist or pharmacy owner for their final comment. 

Who will examine my complaint? 

All complaints received by the PSI are considered by the complaints screening committee, called the Preliminary Proceedings Committee (PPC). The PPC will consider the complaint and may ask for more information from you, the pharmacist or the pharmacy owner. The PPC meets regularly to consider complaints. The role of the PPC is to decide whether further action is necessary in relation to complaints received. Most of the committee members are not pharmacists. 

When the PPC has reviewed the information, it will advise the the PSI Council what steps to take. It will recommend one of the following: 

1. The PPC may decide that there is a case for further action and refer the complaint to either a Committee of Inquiry or to mediation. 

2. The PPC may decide there is insufficient cause to take further action. If the Council agrees, the complaints process ends and no further action will be taken on the complaint. If the Council does not agree, it will send the complaint back to the PPC, who will refer the complaint to mediation or to a Committee of Inquiry. 


Mediation

When a complaint has been considered by the Preliminary Proceedings Committee (PPC) and it is decided that there is case for further action, the matter may be referred to mediation or to inquiry. 

Mediation is a confidential process where a neutral third party (a mediator) sits down with both sides to the complaint to help resolve the matter and to agree an outcome suitable to everyone.  Mediation can only take place where the PPC has decided that further action is required and refers the matter to mediation.  If mediation is unsuccessful the complaint will then be referred to a Committee of Inquiry. 

The person making the complaint and the pharmacist or pharmacy owner must agree to the complaint being resolved using mediation. If either side does not agree to mediation, the PPC will refer the complaint to a Committee of Inquiry instead. 

If a complaint has been referred to mediation, we will write to both sides of the complaint and explain how the process works. Please read the mediation guidelines for more information.

Read the mediation guidelines


Inquiries

What happens if a complaint is referred to a PSI Committee of Inquiry

When a complaint has been considered and it is decided that that there is a case for further action, the matter may be referred to one of the following committees. 

The Professional Conduct Committee 

The Professional Conduct Committee usually deals with complaints about professional misconduct or poor professional performance. The Professional Conduct Committee will have a legal assessor to advise the Committee about law and procedure. The legal assessor will not take part in decisions. 

The Health Committee 

The Health Committee usually deals with complaints about impairment of a pharmacist’s ability to practise due to a physical or mental ailment, emotional disturbance or an addiction to alcohol or drugs. The Health Committee will have a legal assessor to advise the Committee about law and procedure but will not take part in decisions. The Health Committee also has a registered medical doctor with relevant expertise to advise the Committee on any medical issue. The doctor will not take part in decisions. 

Inquiries normally take place in public (except in limited circumstances) at PSI House. Scheduled inquiries to take place in public will be listed in advance of the hearing date. 


Remote hearings were held as a result of requirements for social distancing during the peak of COVID-19 and the option for online hearings remains if needed. Further information on remote hearings is available in our FAQ Guide. 

Before an inquiry

  • Solicitors for the PSI will examine the complaint, gather relevant documents, interview witnesses and take witness statements. 

  • The person who makes the complaint is generally asked to give a witness statement. They will have a chance to look at the statement and make any changes before it is signed. They may also be asked to attend the inquiry and give evidence in person. 

  • Solicitors for the PSI will often ask an independent expert pharmacist to review the complaint and all the documents. Once all this has been done, a date will be set for the hearing. 

During an inquiry

  • There are at least three people who sit on a Committee of Inquiry. The Committee of Inquiry must have a non-pharmacist majority. 

  • A hearing before a Committee of Inquiry is similar to a hearing before a court or tribunal. Both sides may present evidence, call witnesses and cross-examine (question) each other’s witnesses. The Registrar of the PSI is responsible for presenting the evidence in support of your complaint.  

  • If you make a complaint, or if you are the subject of a complaint,you may  have to give evidence at the inquiry. Any person who is asked to give a witness statement, or to give evidence at an inquiry, may bring a friend or family member with them for support, although this person may not always be allowed to sit in on the meeting/inquiry, as the information may be confidential. 

  • A stenographer will record the evidence and produce a transcript (written record) of the Inquiry. 

  • Inquiries conducted by the Professional Conduct Committee are normally held in public. This means that members of the public (including the news media) can attend. Inquiries conducted by the Health Committee are normally held in private. The pharmacist, pharmacy owner or complainant can ask for an inquiry to be held in public or private. The Committee of Inquiry may agree to this if it is satisfied that this would be appropriate. 

After an inquiry

At the end of the inquiry, the Committee of Inquiry will decide if the allegations against the pharmacist or pharmacy are proven beyond reasonable doubt. The Committee of Inquiry will then prepare a report setting out the complaint, the evidence presented and the findings, together with its reasons. This report is provided to the PSI Council, who will consider the sanction to be imposed and decide whether the outcome should be published on the website. 

In the public interest, the PSI declares and upholds standards of practice and promotes confidence in the profession of pharmacy. The PSI achieves these aims through the publication of the outcome of disciplinary proceedings

If the Committee of Inquiry finds that a complaint has been proven, the Council of the PSI must do one or more of the following: 

  • admonish or censure the pharmacist or pharmacy owner; 

  • attach conditions to the registration of the pharmacist or pharmacy; 

  • suspend the registration of the pharmacist or pharmacy for a set time; 

  • cancel the registration of the pharmacist or pharmacy; 

  • forbid the pharmacist or pharmacy owner from applying to restore their name to the Register for a specified time. 

The pharmacist or pharmacy owner has 30 days to appeal certain sanctions to the High Court. After this time, the PSI must apply to the High Court to confirm the sanction. The sanction will only take effect when the High Court confirms it. There is no appeal to the High Court from in respect for the admonishment or censure of the pharmacist.  


Complaint Outcomes

At the end of an Inquiry, the Committee will decide if the allegations against the pharmacist or pharmacy are proven beyond a reasonable doubt. The matter is then referred to the PSI Council which will consider the sanction to be imposed. The PSI Council must publish some sanctions as required by law or may publish other information where it decides it is in the public interest to do so. The details of a successful mediation process may also be published.


Resources and additional information
large desk in boardroom at psi

You can view information published about complaints in the Complaint Outcomes section