The Department of Health’s Rebalancing Board is being urged to adopt a patient safety “pledge” by two bodies representing community pharmacists.
The Pharmacists’ Defence Association (PDA) and National Pharmacy Association (NPA) have released a statement calling on the Rebalancing Board to consider the pledge at its next meeting on 23 October 2017.
The statement says that any proposals on pharmacy supervision developed by the Board should be presented to the Secretary of State for Health only when certain circumstances are met, one of which is “compelling evidence” that the changes will not risk a reduction in patient safety.
It also says there should be a clear case that any proposed changes “will make pharmacists more, rather than less, accessible to the public”.
The statement calls for a “clear view” among both pharmacists and patient representative groups about the way forward on pharmacy supervision, and says there should be the “widest possible engagement with front-line community pharmacists and pharmacy technicians” who would need to implement any changes.
The Rebalancing Medicines Legislation and Pharmacy Regulation Programme Board has been tasked with looking at a more modern, risk-based regulatory approach to pharmacy.
In September, a leaked document, prepared by a working group of the 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.
NPA Chair, Ian Strachan, said: “The consequences of making the wrong policy choices [on pharmacy supervision] would be grave for the patients that pharmacies serve.
“It ought to be very easy and uncontroversial to give a basic assurance on patient safety, and we hope all members of the Board will feel able to do this.”
Pharmacists’ Defence Association Chairman, Mark Koziol, added: “Any changes must make the pharmacist more available to the public in the community pharmacy setting and not less so.
“Within this vision, pharmacists can enjoy an enhanced professional role and the ability to further develop their clinical relationship with patients.”