Christian pharmacists could be forced to provide services which go against their conscience, under controversial new proposals.
The General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) is currently consulting on new guidance which would require pharmacists to park their religious convictions while at work.
One group representing Christian pharmacists has warned that the move could make “the position of some excellent professionals untenable”.
Values and beliefs
Under the GPhC’s revised guidance, pharmacy professionals are told to make sure they do not “impose” their values and beliefs on other people.
The guidance states that they must “take responsibility for ensuring that person-centred care is not compromised because of personal values and beliefs”, while weakening the right of referral to another pharmacist.
It also says that in some cases, a pharmacist’s beliefs could render them “unable to take up certain working roles”.
In practice, the guidance could mean Christian pharmacists are forced to provide access to abortifacient drugs, such as the morning after pill, and hormone blocking drugs, which are used by transsexual patients.
David Clapham, from the group Christians in Pharmacy, said the guidance could deter people of faith from entering the occupation.
“This would be to the detriment of the profession, patients and pharmacy as a whole”.
And Hina Shahid, chair of the Muslim Doctors Association, said her organisation is also concerned that “certain proposed changes are very restrictive”.
The GPhC consultation document admits that the proposals will “change the expectations placed on pharmacy professionals when their religion, personal values and beliefs might – in certain circumstances – impact on their ability to provide services.”
The consultation is open to the public and will run until 7 March.