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The PDA and NPA have jointly appealed to members of the Department of Health’s Rebalancing Board to adopt a patient safety ‘pledge’, in the light of growing concerns about a relaxation of pharmacist supervision of medicines supply.

The next meeting of the Board is scheduled for October 23rd and the two organisations hope the Board will take the opportunity to allay fears by putting this item on the agenda.

The statement reads:

We will present our proposals on pharmacy supervision to the Secretary of State for Health only when the following circumstances prevail:

–    Compelling evidence has been published that the changes proposed will not risk a reduction in patient safety.

–    There is a clear case that the changes proposed will make pharmacists more, rather than less, accessible to the public in the community pharmacy setting; and therefore enabling of the further development of a clinical relationship with patients.

–    There is a clear view amongst pharmacists about the way forward.

–    There is a clear view amongst patient representative groups about the way forward.

–    Pharmacy technicians understand and are supportive of any new responsibilities and roles that may be proposed for them.

–    There has been the widest possible engagement with the front line community pharmacists and pharmacy technicians who would need to implement any proposed changes.


NPA Chairman, Ian Strachan, said:

“The consequences of making the wrong policy choices would be grave for the patients that pharmacies serve. By adopting this pledge, the Board could go a long way to addressing people’s fears.  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, said:

“Undoubtedly the rules on pharmacy supervision need updating but the purpose of these changes must be to build upon community pharmacy’s pivotal role as the place where the public can have access to a pharmacist at any time they require. 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.”

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