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Professor Harry McQuillan has said that the currently ‘fluid situation’ in which community pharmacy finds itself as a result of COVID-19 means that pharmacists, when faced with new and previously-unknown dilemmas, will have to make their own, professional decisions.

The Chair of Community Pharmacy Scotland (CPS) appeared in a video on the CPS website to update pharmacists on the current situation in which the profession finds itself.

CPS, Professor McQuillan said, was only too aware of the gap between clinical advice and operational issues.

‘There may be questions from owners,’ he said, ‘such as ‘can we….?’, but the answers will have to come from within.

‘You have a considerable task at hand,’ he continued, ‘but the permission to act is yours to give.’

Professor McQuillan’s comments were in response to a statement from the General Pharmaceutical Society (GPhC) in which the body recognised that, in these challenging and unprecedented circumstances, it isn’t always possible to follow normal procedure.

‘As with the Beast from the East,’ a GPhC statement said, ‘the regulators have come together to acknowledge that in challenging times, healthcare professionals may need to operate in ways that they wouldn’t normally to look after patients. It is recommended that any decisions to work differently should be recorded so that the full context can be taken into account should anything untoward happen as a result. As always, individual professional judgement must be applied, and it may be worth speaking with your superintendent if you are considering a departure from SoPs or the law.’

The GPhC statement was also backed by the Royal Pharmaceutical Society in Scotland.

‘We are very pleased to see this statement from GPhC,’ a spokesman for RPS said, ‘which reassures pharmacists that they have a flexible approach to regulation and encourages use of professional judgement in the best interests of patients. Sometimes there are circumstances where you can’t follow normal procedure.

‘Pharmacists and pharmacy teams are working harder than ever to support people with their medicines during the unprecedented and unplanned for impact of COVID-19.

‘The RPS backs you to use your professional judgement, skills and expertise to help people.

‘There will be circumstances in the coming weeks where you’ll need to do things differently and prioritise putting people first and professional ethics over legislation, regulation and processes.

‘Do think things through, and be sure that you can justify your decisions keeping records of the professional interventions you make.’


The incidence of COVIF-19 continues to increase across Scotland and today (18 March), Scottish First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, announced that all schools are to close from Friday.

As of today there are 227 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Scotland.

The first patient was actually diagnosed on March 1, with the first community transmission of the infection detected ten days later on March 11. Since then, the pace of new cases has steadily increased, and, sadly, three people have now died from the virus.

COVIF-19 is now present in the majority of health boards in Scotland. The first diagnosis occurred in NHS Tayside, but NHS Ayrshire and Arran, NHS Grampian, NHS Forth Valley and NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde now have confirmed cases. Only two boards – Orkney

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