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PSNC: Incident reporting rules delayed until dispensing errors decriminalised

NHS England's decision shows the commissioning body has listened to the sector's concerns, says PSNC head of NHS services Alastair Buxton

NHS England has shelved plans to prevent pharmacies from anonymously reporting patient safety incidents until dispensing errors are decriminalised, PSNC has announced.

As part of the 2014-15 funding settlement announced in September, PSNC and NHS England agreed that pharmacists should include the name of their pharmacy when submitting an incident report to the National Reporting and Learning System (NRLS). But the negotiator announced yesterday (January 14) that the plans would be delayed until the law on dispensing errors was changed, which was not expected "before early 2016”.

NHS England had changed its mind because it wanted the pharmacy contract to be “fully supported” by law and the new reporting rules would be introduced as soon as ongoing plans to remove the criminal sanction for inadvertent dispensing errors were completed, said PSNC.

A requirement in the funding settlement for pharmacies to increase the number of safety incidents they reported to the NRLS would not be affected by the delay, said PSNC, which encouraged contractors to "review their current approach to reporting incidents".

Risk of prosection

Pharmacy leaders raised concerns last year that the new incident reporting rules could put pharmacists at risk of prosecution, and PSNC head of NHS services Alastair Buxton said yesterday that NHS England’s decision to delay the rules showed that it had “once again” listened to the sector’s concerns.

“This delay does not mean we can ignore our commitment to increasing reporting levels. We still need to ensure that pharmacy contributes towards the NHS safety culture by reporting, sharing and learning from patient safety incidents,” he added.

The board set up to review medicine law was due to launch a consultation on the decriminalisation of dispensing errors in January 2014, but in December House of Commons leader William Hague said the consultation would happen in "due course".


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