An alliance of seven pharmacy bodies have formed a working group to produce a report and set of recommendations aiming to inform the government as it develops new legislation around community pharmacy supervision.
In a statement published on 27 January 2023, the new ‘Pharmacy Supervision Practice Group’ said the group had been launched “in response to much discussion relating to current legislation and case law surrounding supervision of community pharmacy practice and the intention of the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC), and health departments in the devolved governments, to reform current legislation later on this year”.
“The role of the group will be to co-produce a report along with a set of recommendations that will inform the work of the DHSC and health ministers in the development of future legislation,” the statement said.
It added that the primary objectives of the group “are to develop a solution that is focused on enhancing patient experience and maintaining patient safety, [and] enables the community pharmacy workforce to maximise their skills and professional roles”.
The group includes representatives from the Association of Independent Multiple Pharmacies (AIMp), Association of Pharmacy Technicians UK, Company Chemists’ Association (CCA), National Pharmacy Association (NPA), Pharmacists’ Defence Association, Pharmacy Forum Northern Ireland and the Royal Pharmaceutical Society.
The Department of Health and Social Care and the General Pharmaceutical Council hold observer status with the group.
In May 2021, the AIMp, CCA and NPA set up a steering group to restart discussions around supervision, but said at the time that they were not considering remote supervision and were instead seeking a greater “pharmacist presence in the pharmacy”.
Remote supervision faced a 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.
Then, in July 2019, the DHSC told The Pharmaceutical Journal that, following a commitment to improve skill mix in the five-year community pharmacy contract, it planned to look at how legislation and practice can be updated to allow pharmacy technicians to take more of a role in dispensing.
The Pharmacy Supervision Practice Group held its first meeting on 13 January 2023, and the group said initial discussions focused on “what community pharmacy and patient care looks like in the future”.
Michael Twigg, chair of the group and associate professor of primary care pharmacy at the University of East Anglia, said: “The sector as a whole [has] been really positive in engaging with this process with a common purpose to develop a shared vision for the next generation of community pharmacy for the benefit of patients and our workforce across the UK.
“The outcome from this work will not simply redefine supervision practice but provide minsters with the evidence and tools to transform future community pharmacy practice for the benefit of patients and the profession”.
The DHSC was approached for comment.