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RPS president 'totally regrets' pharmacy technician tweet

Martin Astbury has said he “totally regrets” writing that pharmacy leaders “should be shot” if they support technicians legally supervising medicines supply.

However, he has "no problem" with the fact that his tweet this morning (May 3) started a debate about legal supervision requirements, the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) president told C+D this afternoon.

Mr Astbury came under fire from pharmacists on Twitter this morning, after posting that “any so-called pharmacy leaders advocating pharm[acy] tech[nicians] should be able to legally supervise supply of medicines should be shot”.

“Something that you would say verbally doesn’t always come across well on Twitter,” he told C+D afterwards. “I would hope that no one would misinterpret the fact that I would ever want to incite violence on someone.

“As far as the actual starting of a debate, I have no problem [with that],” he added.

“Very clearly stipulated” my argument

Mr Astbury said he “very clearly stipulated” that his tweet was about the legal definition of supervision, but he regretted using the “four-letter word ‘shot’”.

“Obviously people do take things I totally regret using that turn of phrase,” he said.

Mr Astbury has since taken the Tweet down, because he “could see straight away that instead of actually getting on with the debate of whether we should downgrade legal supervision…people are debating whether the [RPS] president was [inciting] physical violence on people”.

“This is not at all what I was looking to do. I was very much writing as a candidate [for the RPS] elections, but obviously you can never take your president’s hat off.”

Sticking to the RPS stance

Mr Astbury said he is “lucky” that his opinion that “it is totally inappropriate" to legally pass supervision responsibilities to a technician, is in line with the RPS’s official stance.

The society told C+D that its position on pharmacy supervision remains unchanged since 2011 (see details below).

The Twitter reaction


RPS position on legal supervision

  1. There should be overarching principles that describe what patients should expect from all pharmacists – but supervision changes should reflect the differences between pharmacy sectors.
  2. Supply of prescribed medicines to the public requires a clinical check by a pharmacist to ensure the medicine is appropriate, and this should comply with professional and regulatory standards.
  3. Supervision changes must safeguard individual pharmacists’ autonomy in delivering pharmaceutical care and further empower them to exert their professional duty to patients.
  4. Innovations that allow pharmacists to concentrate on patient care are welcomed. Such innovations should ensure continuity of, and enhance the quality of, pharmaceutical care.

Supervision requirements should be amended so the direct supervision of prescription assembly can be delegated to a registered pharmacy technician, so that pharmacists can develop their clinical and public health service role.

Would you like to see pharmacy technicians have an expanded role?

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