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DH programme board chair responds to pharmacy supervision debate

The board will present its draft proposals to the DH once its recommendations have been decided.
The board will present its draft proposals to the DH once its recommendations have been decided.

The chair of the board overseeing controversial pharmacy supervision proposals has written to C+D to say it will share the proposals once it “firms up” its plans.

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.

Pharmacy supervision: what has been proposed?

A working group, established by the UK’s four chief pharmaceutical officers, suggested amending legislation to allow a pharmacy technician to, in a pharmacist’s absence, undertake the “supervision role” of determining when medicine supplies can go ahead.

It also proposed that pharmacy technicians could “oversee the activities of other, non-regulated, pharmacy staff”, according to the confidential documents seen by C+D.

Are you concerned by the pharmacy supervision proposals?

Locum Pharmacist, Locum pharmacist

'work has already moved apace on numerous issues of importance to pharmacy”– including decriminalising inadvertent dispensing errors'

How many years and prosecuted pharmacists has it been so far?? Why the sudden urgency?

The DoH seem eager to lay out the red carpet for when technicians take over from pharmacists. They are all a bunch of hypocrites- the RPS, APTUK GPhC etc. They keep stating how important it is to have open conversations whilst holding secret meetings the past few years regarding issues that will negatively impact upon pharmacists and patient safety. It is truly horrifying how little common sense and real-world understanding of healthcare individuals in positions of authority actually possess.

Farhat Ahmed, Locum pharmacist

Decrminilasation has been on the agenda for a very long time, is it just coincidence that it is now been given a push just before technicians start supervising?

Leon The Apothecary, Student

One should be questioning why these colloquiums were not taken place openly from the idea's inception? It's not difficult to sympathize why Pharmacists are feeling the DH is being untrustworthy about the whole issue. It will only serve as a hindrance of their own making.

Jonny Johal, Pharmacy Area manager/ Operations Manager

Decriminalising inadvertant dispensing errors will be a mistake, the move will serve to increase the amount of dispensing errors, especially when technicians start dispensing. There will, however, be a lot of work for compensation lawyers as negligence claims hit the roof. Pharmacy contractors will have to review their level of insurance cover.

Thomas Wilde, Community pharmacist

Are you under the impression that Pharmacists and Techs don't care about their patients and that the only reason we try not to make errors is for our own sake. This is by far the most ridiculous argument I have ever seen, you clearly have no respect for the profession. 

Wolverine 001 , Pharmacist Director

well said!!! but surley is decriminalisation does happen this reduces pharmacists wages even more?

Rubicon Mango, Academic pharmacist

Why are you concerned? Got something to hide? If this was truly a democratic country, you would consult the working population and public on your matters.

Why do we even have people at the top who govern us who are educated on subjects such as humanities? I had the privilege of visiting Turkey, Azerbaijan & Oman recently to carry out some work on their health systems in relation to the UK. One thing I noticed was not one person in a position of authority in healthcare had a background of history or politics or humanities. These were people who had worked in healthcare or educated in scientific backgrounds and that translated onto their policies and workforce. We are only a first class country for the lie to the public. We run a third rate health service and when countries like Turkey, Oman and Azerbaijan have better working practices, policies and healthcare systems then ours, then you have to look at people like Jarrold and ask yourself, is this a man who really belongs in implementing health polices. Perhaps the best he can do is compare the health services in 16th century rural England. Its also worth noting Ken Jarrold was the chair of the North Staffordshire NHS trust so you think he would err on the side of caution in regards to patient safety. Any other country and there would be a revolution before tomorrow morning if this malpractice was allowed to occur.

Ilove Pharmacy, Non Pharmacist Branch Manager

And yet strangely the UK looks down on such countries as being backward and archaic.

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