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Umesh Modi is a chartered accountant, and Pamini Jatheeskumar is a chartered certified accountant at Silver Levene...
  Don Lavoie is alcohol programme manager at Public Health England and Gul Root is lead...
Don Lavoie is alcohol programme manager at Public Health England and Gul Root is lead pharmacist, Health and Wellbeing Directorate, Public Health England
More inWhite Papers  

a dispensary team imageJune 26 2018

The Pharmacists’ Defence Association has raised concerns over aspects in new guidance from the pharmacy regulator relating to pharmacy team size and requirements.

The General Pharmaceutical Council has set out “what pharmacy owners are expected to do to ensure a safe and effective pharmacy team and meet the standards set out under Principle 2 of the standards for registered pharmacies.”

These standards “focus on making sure staff are empowered and competent to safeguard the health, safety and wellbeing of patients and the public. The new guidance covers both registered and unregistered staff in registered pharmacies, including managers who may not be registered pharmacy professionals.”

The PDA has welcomed the GPhC’s decision to continue setting training requirements and assessing and approving training courses for dispensing assistants and medicines counter assistants. However, it says it has serious concerns about the effect of the guidance on patient safety.

In terms of staffing levels, the GPhC’s ‘Guidance to ensure a safe and effective pharmacy’ states: “The number of staff and the skill mix needed to provide safe and effective pharmacy services will vary significantly between pharmacies, depending on the context in which each pharmacy is operating.”

It sets out aspects to consider, such as dispensing and OTC sales volume, customer flow, use of technology, the range of services provided, the learning and experience of the team, and analysis of previous safety incidents and customer feedback. 

“This means you have to take a tailored approach to staffing levels; one that is flexible and makes sure people receive safe and effective care from every registered pharmacy,” says the GPhC guidance.

The PDA has said: “To an outside observer, it may appear that the GPhC has ‘done something’ about the issues it covers – but the devil is in the detail. We are concerned that parts of this guidance may be able to act as a smokescreen – potentially exacerbating some issues whilst giving the appearance all is well – and if they can, it may have been better not to have those parts of the guidance at al.”

Other PDA concerns include: 

  • there is a lack of specificity in how the directors of a body corporate should assure themselves that the standards for registered pharmacies are being met as part of their business;
  • “the guidance doesn’t require the professional decision or even input of the pharmacist into crucial patient-safety related matters, such as the number, training and competence of staff”;
  • the fact that the guidance is non-compulsory – pharmacies will only be assessed against the enforceable standards.

Links:
GPhC announcement of new guidance 
GPhC ‘Guidance to support the standards for registered pharmacies’     
PDA response to new guidance 
PDA response to staffing levels 

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