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Brine announces medicine safety initiative as error defence approaches

Steve Brine: Community pharmacy faces exceptional circumstances (image credit: DH)
Steve Brine: Community pharmacy faces exceptional circumstances (image credit: DH)

The government will launch a new “medication safety initiative” in the “coming months”, pharmacy minister Steve Brine has announced.

In a pre-recorded video address to Sigma Pharmaceuticals’ annual conference in Borneo this morning (February 12), Mr Brine said the initiative will “bring more focus on reducing prescribing and medication errors across the health system”.

“This programme will build on existing work to develop our understanding of how best to educate and inform patients about their medicines, as well as how we use technology such as electronic prescribing and medicine administration systems,” he added.

Mr Brine also reaffirmed that he is “personally committed” to seeing the legal defence for pharmacists and their staff from criminal prosecution for an inadvertent dispensing error become law.

One step closer to dispensing error defence

Last week, this proposed defence came once step closer to reality, with the news that the government’s privy council had signed the order. According to correspondence from the Department of Health and Social Care – seen by C+D – this order will come into force 28 days after it has been signed, after which the government can then introduce a “commencement order”.

In practical terms, this means the earliest the defence could become law is April.

Minister admits sector’s “exceptional circumstances”

Pharmacy minister Mr Brine also used his video message to reflect on the “exceptional circumstances affecting community pharmacy this year”, including a 12-month category M clawback “at a time when some generic medicines increased in price”.

Mr Brine said he had “listened to these concerns” and “increased advance payments twice to mitigate cashflow issues”.

“I also recognise that November's unprecedented delay in announcing concessionary prices caused a bit of uncertainty for pharmacy contractors. However, it was important to understand the position of the market.”

“I want to thank you for supplying medicines to patients during this uncertainty,” he added.

Watch the full video address from Mr Brine below:

Theresa May: “Pharmacy at heart of wellbeing”

For the second year in a row, prime minister Theresa May sent a letter expressing her support for the Sigma conference.

“Community pharmacies remain at the heart of patient care and community wellbeing,” she wrote in the letter. “As we are in the midst of national change, I hope the conference allows partners in the community pharmacy sector to discuss how to further shape their businesses for the future.”

The letter was read out by the event’s chair, Pharmacists’ Defence Association director of public affairs Claire Ward, during the conference's opening session.

You can read the letter in full here.

What do you make of Mr Brine's comments?

Adam Hall, Community pharmacist

Two things - Brine mentions how they "make use of medicines administration systems" - does that sound like MDS/NOMAD/Dosette (whatever you call them) becomes a service or part of the contract?

Second - May gives her support - sounds like the PM shakes your hand while the Chancellor cuts your throat!

Wolverine 001 , Pharmacist Director

Ohh and to top it off "Go see your pharmacist if you are ill and under -five as it is free, FREE I TELLS YA!!!" - utter garbage

They are all talking the same old crap at this confrenece, the funny things is when they take a picture of the crowd there is hardly anyone there - where next the Avicenna confrence!!! 

Mohammed Patel, Community pharmacist

Did anyone notice that the Sigma conference was in Borneo? What a ridiculous jolly they have been on. All expenses-paid, no doubt.

Bintang beers and a tropical holiday for everyone! 


Sh Mustafi, Pharmacy Buyer

Why does it matter if it’s in Borneo? The NHS are not paying for it, it’s coming out of sigma pocket. Perfectly legal expense they can use. 

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