Progress with rebalancing medicines legislation programme is unacceptably slow

The snail-like progress of the rebalancing medicines legislation programme continues to amaze me.

In June 2014, an expert report on the programme’s impact on hospital pharmacy was completed but only uploaded onto the programme website in November 2016. It contains some radical but eminently sensible recommendations, notably ruling out the need for hospital pharmacy departments to be registered and amending the law to introduce a new statutory role of hospital chief pharmacist, which mirrors the requirements for a superintendent pharmacist.

Furthermore — and music to my ears — the report goes on to recommend a knowledge, skills and competencies framework for the “pivotal role” of the chief pharmacist. I have not yet seen any analysis of this report in the pharmacy press but, if accepted, this surely strengthens the case for similar competencies for the equally pivotal role of the superintendent pharmacist — something I have pressed for over at least two decades.

The sting in the tail lies in the last recommendation. The hospital expert group want assurances from all the relevant regulators that hospital departments will not have to be registered before any more progress is made on legislation to provide defences for inadvertent dispensing errors occurring in community pharmacies which, of course, do have to be registered. Otherwise hospital pharmacy departments might be caught, too.

One can only be impressed by the ingenuity with which further delays have been introduced into the rebalancing programme. The draft legislation providing defences for dispensing errors was published in February 2015. The programme itself began in 2013. So much for priority and urgency.

Joy Wingfield

Honorary professor of pharmacy law and ethics

University of Nottingham

Last updated
The Pharmaceutical Journal, PJ, January 2017, Vol 298, No 7897;298(7897):DOI:10.1211/PJ.2017.20202184

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