Following C+D's extensive coverage of the leaked proposals to hand legal responsibility for supervising medicine supplies to pharmacy technicians, Ken Jarrold, chair of the Department of Health (DH) board tasked with “rebalancing” medicines legislation, has written C+D to clarify the board’s position.
He insisted “it's really important that we are able to have open conversations at the board about the challenges and opportunities pharmacy faces.”
“I’ve been frustrated and disappointed that board discussions have been leaked,” Mr Jarrold told C+D today (October 10).
“The publication of conversations from 14 months ago – when the board is still debating the issue today – is causing unnecessary, if understandable, worry.”
Mr Jarrold confirmed that “the board has been discussing the role of pharmacy professionals, including registered pharmacy technicians”.
However, it is “committed to ensuring appropriate quality assurance systems are in place to support any changes to legislation and maintain patient confidence and safety”, he stressed.
PDA “not excluded”
Last month, the Pharmacists’ Defence Association (PDA) chair Mark Koziol said the trade union was “concerned” by C+D's exclusive revelations. Despite being a member of a wider stakeholder group – the 'partners forum' – with ties to the DH’s programme board, the PDA was “not approached” about the proposals, he said.
In his response, Mr Jarrold said “the PDA has not been excluded from discussions and will have their say, alongside other members of the partners forum”.
“It will only be once we have taken on board the views of the partners forum that the board will firm up its proposals and make recommendations to ministers,” he stressed.
Decriminalisation legislation “before Christmas”
Mr Jarrold insisted that the board is “dedicated to seeing community pharmacies flourish” and that “work has already moved apace on numerous issues of importance to pharmacy” – including decriminalising inadvertent dispensing errors.
A new legal defence from inadvertent dispensing errors will be laid before parliament “before Christmas”, Mr Jarrold said, with “similar provision for hospital settings” to follow in 2018.
Last month, C+D exclusively published detailed proposals for pharmacy technicians to be handed legal responsibility for supervising the supply of prescription-only medicines (POMs), which had been submitted to the DH programme board.
Read Mr Jarrold’s response in full here.