Government launches double consultation on dispensing errors legislation and role of responsible and superintendent pharmacists

The first consultation is on extending defences that already exist for community pharmacists to cover pharmacy professionals working in other services, such as hospitals, while the second consultation aims to clarify the roles of responsible pharmacists and superintendent pharmacists.

Duncan Rudkin, chief executive of the General Pharmaceutical Council

The government has launched a consultation on extending the new defence for dispensing errors from community pharmacists to other parts of the profession, and a second consultation on clarification of how registered pharmacies should be governed.

The two UK-wide consultations, launched on 19 June 2018, have been issued on behalf of the four UK health departments as two draft orders: The Pharmacy (Preparation and Dispensing Errors — Hospitals and Other Pharmacy Services) Order 2018 and The Pharmacy (Responsible Pharmacists, Superintendent Pharmacists etc.) Order 2018.

The first draft order seeks to extend defences that already exist for community pharmacists in the case of accidental preparation and dispensing errors to cover pharmacy professionals working in hospitals and other relevant pharmacy services, such as in a prison.

The second draft order aims to clarify the roles of responsible pharmacists and superintendent pharmacists in primary legislation in terms of the governing of registered pharmacies.

Duncan Rudkin, chief executive of the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC), said the consultation included a number of significant proposals.

“It is important that defences for dispensing errors are extended to pharmacists and pharmacy technicians working in hospitals and other specified settings at the earliest possible opportunity, and the launch of the consultation is a step towards that,” he said.

Rudkin said the GPhC would respond to the consultation in due course after discussing the proposals with its council.

“We also very much welcome the debate about the best way to strengthen the legal framework around the important roles of superintendents and responsible pharmacists,” he added.

Source: Royal Pharmaceutical Society

Ash Soni, president of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society, said the government must encourage a culture where people felt able to report errors and learn from mistakes to improve patient safety

The Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) welcomed the start of the consultations.

“The RPS has continued calling on the government to introduce these vital changes and so I am delighted that the minister has delivered on his commitment to bring forward the next stage in the consultation on inadvertent dispensing errors, which should help to put the whole profession on an equal footing,” said Ash Soni, RPS president and a member of the Rebalancing Medicines Legislation and Pharmacy Regulation Programme Board, which reviews relevant pharmacy legislation and regulation.

“The government must now ensure that these changes will work in practice to reduce the fear of prosecution, encouraging a culture where people feel able to report errors and learn from mistakes to improve patient safety.”

Soni added that measures around superintendent and responsible pharmacists should strengthen governance and give greater responsibility on a day-to-day basis to responsible pharmacists.

Paul Bennett, chief executive of the RPS, said the Society was committed to engaging constructively with the government and stakeholders on these important issues, including through the Rebalancing Board, of which he is also a member.

“We will be asking our members for their views on these latest proposals as we develop our response to the consultation,” he said.

Alongside the consultation, the Department of Health and Social Care has also published equality analyses to highlight the potential impact of the proposed policies on protected groups, and it has also invited comments on this.

The consultation will run for 12 weeks and will close at midnight on 10 September 2018.

Last updated
The Pharmaceutical Journal, PJ, July 2018, Vol 301, No 7915;301(7915):DOI:10.1211/PJ.2018.20205030

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