Community pharmacy employer representative bodies have set up a steering group to restart discussions around supervision.
But the organisations involved have said they “are not considering remote supervision” and are instead seeking a greater “pharmacist presence in the pharmacy”.
Remote supervision faced a severe backlash in 2017 after a government committee said it was “generally supportive, in principle” of proposals to allow pharmacy technicians to supervise community pharmacies in the absence of a pharmacist.
In a joint statement, the Association of Independent Multiple Pharmacies, the Company Chemists’ Association and the National Pharmacy Association said they had “formed a cross-sector group to discuss supervision related to the use of pharmacists’ clinical knowledge and skills”.
“There is a broad consensus that some elements of supervision may need refreshing to take account of current and emerging pharmacy practice. We are not considering remote supervision.
“In fact, we want the pharmacist presence in the pharmacy to become more, not less, visible to patients. Keeping the critical role of a pharmacist in the pharmacy is essential to us and so is maximising the clinical skills and knowledge of pharmacists. We can all agree that patient safety is paramount,” the statement said.
The representative bodies said they “recognise it is vitally important for pharmacists to understand and have a voice on supervision which is why we hosted the Pharmacists’ Defence Association (PDA) and Royal Pharmaceutical Society at recent meetings”.
The PDA has launched a survey of its members on the preferred make-up of the steering group.
In a statement to The Pharmaceutical Journal on 4 May 2021, the PDA clarified that it has been in discussions with a range of pharmacy bodies, including the General Pharmaceutical Council and the three trade bodies, to “represent the concerns being expressed by PDA members” around supervision.
“Some of these meetings were instigated by the PDA, others by the other organisations and, to that end, discussions about establishing a ‘steering group’ to try and find a consensus and a way forward are currently being held,” the PDA said.
Mark Koziol, chairman of the PDA, said the COVID-19 pandemic “has produced a once in a generation opportunity for greater recognition of community pharmacy, but this surely must be based upon the greater availability of the pharmacist”.
“We must not squander it by squabbling over a choice of two stark options. The first is a race to the bottom driven by a cost-cutting exercise, with no pharmacist present to maximise short-term profits.
“The other is a richer, more professionally fulfilling role for pharmacists in the community pharmacy — delivering benefits for the health service and a dramatically improved patient journey.”