The announcement follows many months of hard work from the British Retail Consortium, Pharmacy Voice and the Optical Confederation, who submitted joint briefings to MPs, Peers and Department of Health officials as the Protection of Freedoms Bill progressed through Parliament.
Rob Darracott, Chief Executive of Pharmacy Voice, said:
“We are pleased with the pragmatic response by the Government to the issues we presented to them. This shows what can be achieved by concerted and constructive dialogue with Government and a joined-up approach across the clinical/retail sector. It also highlights the benefits of presenting our detailed knowledge and experience of our respective health care sectors to Ministers, civil servants and NHS managers.
In the right settings and circumstances, the vetting and barring scheme is an important safeguard for vulnerable groups including children. Extending the scheme to anyone working in a retail setting would have been disproportionate: increasing burdens on businesses without clear benefits. Optometrists, opticians and pharmacists are already regulated by the General Optical Council (GOC) and the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) and are bound by Codes of Conduct which ensure that patients’ welfare is of primary concern.”
Director of Business and Regulation at the British Retail Consortium, Tom Ironside, said:
“It would have been entirely disproportionate to insist shop staff were covered by these checks. They don’t pose any significant risk. Applying the scheme to them would merely have increased costs and bureaucracy for employers.”
Responding for the Optical Confederation, David Hewlett said:
“Community optical practices and community pharmacies have much in common, including our expertise on safeguarding patients and offering high quality clinical care in a retail setting. Working together in our approaches to Government, Parliament and policy makers has strengthened our combined position. We know that this shared focus is welcomed by MPs, peers and civil servants and the sensible outcomes speak for themselves”.