Irresponsible to allow technicians to do clinical checks

The Rebalancing Medicines Legislation and Pharmacy Regulation Programme Board, established by the Department of Health to ‘rebalance’ pharmacy legislation and regulation, is expected to meet again in late January 2017.

Among the laudable stated aims of the rebalancing board is to reduce barriers to responsible development of pharmacy practice and innovation. A key word here is ‘responsible’.

I trust therefore that the rebalancing board will approach with extreme caution any changes to rules governing professional oversight of medicines supply and also pharmacist absence during opening hours.

Currently, a pharmacist checks each prescription for suitability, based on factors such as the patient’s age and gender, medical conditions and medication record. It would be totally irresponsible to allow technicians to conduct the clinical check.

Pharmacy technicians play an important role in many pharmacy teams, but this is not — and should never be — the same role as the pharmacist, who has undergone years of pharmacological training in order to be in a position to apply professional judgement to every patient interaction.

There is a more pressing matter within the scope of the board’s terms of reference: addressing concerns about the risk of criminal prosecution for single dispensing errors. The recent case in Northern Ireland is a tragic reminder that this ought to be the board’s top priority.

Nitin Sodha


National Pharmacy Association Policy and Practice Committee

Last updated
The Pharmaceutical Journal, PJ, January 2017, Vol 298, No 7897;298(7897):DOI:10.1211/PJ.2017.20202196

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