What is causing the delay to decriminalising dispensing errors?

Well hooray and alleluia! A ray of common sense pierces the clouds of officialdom. Now community pharmacists will not have to “dob themselves in” to the authorities until legal defences are put in place to counter the strict liability offence that arises when a dispensing error is made. I would like to claim my blog (
The Pharmaceutical Journal 2014;293:561
) had something to do with the U-turn, but it probably did not.

Now, how about a bit more light is shed on the reasons for delayed progress on this legislation — now unconscionably kicked into the long grass until early 2016. Being offered platitudes that consultation will happen makes me feel as though I am being patted on the head and told to “calm down, dear”. The defences were agreed at a stakeholders meeting in December 2013. I know, I was there. We deserve a detailed explanation that respects our intelligence as to why this legislation is taking so long. Who or what is causing the delay and why? We should be told.

Joy Wingfield

Honorary Professor of Pharmacy Law and Ethics

University of Nottingham 

Last updated
The Pharmaceutical Journal, PJ, 31 January 2015, Vol 294, No 7847;294(7847):DOI:10.1211/PJ.2015.20067646

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