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Rowlands superintendent: Allow trained staff to offer some services under SOPs while pharmacist is away

"Appropriately trained" pharmacy team members should be able to provide limited, pre-agreed services if the responsible pharmacist needs to leave the pharmacy for a maximum of two hours, Margaret MacRury, superintendent and director at Rowlands Pharmacy, has said.

Ms MacRury made her comments during a session on supervision at the Pharmacy Show in Birmingham on Sunday (October 17), which was chaired by Association of Independent Multiple pharmacies (AIMp) CEO Leyla Hannbeck.

Rowlands’ superintendent pharmacist said she believes that “appropriately trained colleagues, such as pharmacy technicians” should be given the authority to hand out medication “if the pharmacist believes they're competent to help out”, she told delegates.

This would help the pharmacy “continue to provide a service” while the responsible pharmacist is away for a maximum period of two hours – the legal period a responsible pharmacist can be away from the premises, according to The Medicines (Pharmacies) (Responsible Pharmacist) Regulations 2008.

“We need to make sure that the legislation keeps up with community pharmacy practice at the moment,” Ms MacRury added.

Under current legislation, pharmacies can only continue to sell general sale list (GSL) products in the absence of a responsible pharmacist.


Make use of SOPs


Ms MacRury clarified her statements to C+D after the session. Under her proposed vision, “the responsible pharmacist must always be responsible for that pharmacy”, she stressed.

However, they would be able to choose a trained member of staff to whom they trusted to delegate some tasks if they needed to leave the premises to “talk to a GP or go to a home visit to do a new medicine service [review]”, for instance.

“That is an opportunity to allow the pharmacist to leave the pharmacy for the two-hour period, but to allow some activities to still go on that would normally only be allowed if the pharmacist were present,” Ms MacRury added. 

This change is something that could take time to come to fruition, as technicians would need to be trained in these areas, she said. But, ultimately, Ms MacRury believes some tasks could be delegated “as long as people are following the appropriate standard operating procedures (SOPs), are appropriately trained and have the right competency”.


Strategic use of technology


Ms MacRury also argued that technology could be used to support pharmacy teams and free up pharmacists’ time. She told C+D: “I think there are things we can use within the patient medication record and scanning technology to help the pharmacist and the colleagues in the pharmacy make sure that things are safe for the patient.”

She told delegates: “It's about giving people the ability to work at the top of their license without the need for direct supervision, because you know your colleagues who work with you in that pharmacy and you know what responsibilities you will get”.

Pharmacists' Defence Association (PDA) chairman Mark Koziol – who was also on the panel speaking at the Pharmacy Show – agreed that technology is “very important” and that pharmacists “need to embrace it”.

“But it is a tactical issue that's being delivered to try and make light of a really, really bad situation,” he argued.

“The only way to really tackle this is strategically,” Mr Koziol said.


Implementing a similar framework to GPs


The panellists also discussed whether the workload expected of pharmacists at the moment is sustainable. The overall answer was no.

“The answer surely has got to be what's happening with GPs,” Mr Koziol said. “Multiple practices where you get several pharmacists working in the same place. You can provide a much wider range of services, the benefits to the public will be absolutely enormous. Everybody will be able to get the job done safely, within a clinical governance framework.”


How far are we from change?


A Community Pharmacy Supervision Practice Group was formed three weeks ago, Dr Hannbeck said during the question-and-answer portion of the talk, effectively replacing the rebalancing board that until recently handled discussions around pharmacy supervision.

C+D reported in May that talks on supervision had resumed, this time inviting representatives from AIMp, the Company Chemists’ Association, the National Pharmacy Association, the PDA and the Royal Pharmaceutical Society .

“I'm hoping that every organisation that represents its members will be able to kind of feed into their members and ask questions,” Dr Hannbeck said.

The group will select a chair and secretary before its next meeting.


What are your thoughts on pharmacy supervision?

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