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Don Lavoie is alcohol programme manager at Public Health England and Gul Root is lead pharmacist, Health and Wellbeing Directorate, Public Health England
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a RPS building imageSeptember 26 2017

Pharmacy bodies have responded to concerns that registered pharmacy technicians may be permitted to supervise the sale and supply of medicines. 

 Media reports have suggested that a Department of Health document has been drawn up with the involvement of the four chief pharmaceutical officers across the UK. The draft document is proposing that technicians could take on an additional supervisory role, allowing pharmacists to spend more time away from the dispensary so as to spend more time with patients directly.

The Royal Pharmaceutical Society has issued statement in response to members contacting it over the reports. The Chairs of the three RPS national Boards and the Society’s President have endorsed the Society’s policy statement.

“The RPS has made it very clear that access to a pharmacist and their ability to provide clinical assurance for safety in community pharmacies is absolutely essential. We do not want to see pharmacies run without pharmacists. We would expect a single pharmacist to have responsibility for a single pharmacy as they do now,” it said.

“We want to see greater investment and job security for pharmacists in community pharmacy, enabling them to build their services for patients and the public. We will continue to support pharmacy teams and enable them to optimise access to pharmacy services for patients.”

The Society has set out eight principles on the matter. Among these, it requests:

  • there should be better definition of the new roles and responsibilities of the Responsible Pharmacist and Superintendent Pharmacists before any further changes are made;
  • time is taken to reflect on and look at what the desired outcomes of the proposed changes to the roles of technicians are before setting out any changes;
  • there should be no lowering of the standard and quality of the supply of medicines;
  • the law should ensure the pharmacist always has the opportunity to undertake the clinical assessment or check, and that any new law does not have gaps where this could potentially be bypassed;
  • any new legislation should not be drawn up which could be used to operate pharmacies without pharmacists being present for anything other than very short periods of time.

“We believe that the appropriate balance of legislation and regulation is best achieved through constructive dialogue,” said the Society.

Community Pharmacy Scotland has also issued a statement saying its “vision of practice for community pharmacy in Scotland retains our setting at the heart of our communities and draws specifically upon the procurement, safety, patient supply and clinical appropriateness of prescribed medicines skills from a pharmacist’s broad range of expertise.

“To deliver care effectively, the pharmacy retains, maintains and is responsible for all aspects of medicines supply. Patients are required to register with a pharmacy for all services with the pharmacist accountable for all of this.

“The pharmacist is decoupled from the technical aspect of procurement and assembly of medicines within the supply process to allow their full clinical skill to be devoted to a patient facing informative role, ensuring maximum benefit and safety is derived from prescribed therapy.

“To enable this to happen the pharmacy support structure will have to perform the supply accuracy check. For some pharmacies, this will be delivered using technology alone, some with staff only and some with a hybrid approach. The dispensary team employed in this model will have the ability to oversee the accuracy of the supply process.”

CPS says that “decoupling of the pharmacist from the technical aspect of supply further facilitates the management of common clinical conditions from the community pharmacy setting, utilising the principle of ‘pharmacy first’ supported by pharmacist triage, access to clinical records and effective onward referral routes.”

Links:
RPS statement   
RPS Policy position       
CPS statement  

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