The Pharmacists’ Defence Association (PDA) will launch a campaign in a bid to ‘reclaim the supervision debate’ from the rebalancing board, according to its chairman Mark Koziol, speaking at the Pharmacy Show in Birmingham on 8 September.
The rebalancing board, which was convened by the Department of Health in 2013, does not include representatives from the PDA or the National Pharmacy Association (NPA). It includes representatives of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) and General Pharmaceutical Council along with all four chief pharmaceutical officers, a representative from the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency and other pharmacy stakeholders.
The group, known formally as the ‘Rebalancing Medicines Legislation and Pharmacy Regulation Programme Board’ was asked to look at informing a more modern, risk-based regulatory approach to pharmacy that maintained safety, built in quality and maximised the skills of pharmacists and pharmacy technicians. It was also asked to address those aspects of professional regulation that impeded the deployment of modern technologies and put disproportionate or unnecessary obstacles in the way of new models of service delivery.
In September, a leaked document, prepared by a working group of the rebalancing board suggested that current legislation could be changed to allow a ‘registered pharmacy professional’, which could include a pharmacy technician, to ‘take responsibility for’ the sale and supply of pharmacy and prescription-only medicines.
Koziol said the new campaign would be formally launched in the next few weeks and would involve a series of events across the UK during which pharmacists would be asked to sign a pledge to support the campaign. In November 2017, a patient charter will focus on the role of the pharmacist in patient safety. And the PDA will publish two reports, one examining the role of pharmacy technicians across Europe and the role of technicians working in dentistry and optometry, and another on the future of community pharmacy, due in December 2017. The campaign will culminate in a national conference in 2018.
“We need to establish a trusted taskforce. It’s time the profession reclaims the supervision debate. Do we want it to be done by a committee where it’s all cloak and daggers, where nobody can speak to anyone else and where you get sanitised minutes, or do we want to engage as a profession, come up with our own ideas and our own rules?”
Koziol urged all community pharmacists to engage with patient groups and identify sympathetic MPs to help build an “operational vision for pharmacy”.
He said: “We are hoping to achieve what the rebalancing board has failed to achieve and that is to engage all of the pharmacy profession”, adding that the campaign would “coalesce around patient safety issues”.
Koziol also confirmed that the PDA and the NPA had written a joint letter to the chair of the rebalancing board, Ken Jarrold, requesting an urgent meeting to discuss the issue.
Responding to the PDA’s announcement, Ash Soni, president of the Royal Pharmacuetical Society, said: “As a member of the rebalancing board I have never, and never will, support that you don’t have a pharmacist in a pharmacy. It must be the case that wherever there is a medicine there must be a pharmacist.”
Soni accepted that not enough had been done in opening up the discussion around supervision and said that the RPS would commit to doing that.