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Draft dispensing error decriminalisation laws agreed by parliamentary lawyers

The timetable to pass the draft changes into law before the May 2015 general election is "very tight"

Parliamentary lawyers have given final approval to legislation on dispensing errors drafted by the programme board set up to "rebalance" medicines law, which means the changes could be put out for public consultation

Parliamentary lawyers has agreed draft changes to the law to decriminalise dispensing errors, C+D has learned.


The lawyers have given final approval to legislation on dispensing errors drafted by the programme board set up to "rebalance" medicines law, which meant the changes could be put out for public consultation.


But the board noted the timetable was "very tight" to change the law before the general election in May 2015 - although this was "still achievable", it said in notes from its meeting in May this year.


As well as decriminalising dispensing errors, the board will also be consulting on legally defining the role of superintendents and giving pharmacy regulators power to decide whether a responsible pharmacist needs to be on the premises at all times.


The board planned to make the changes by passing secondary legislation under section 60 of the Health Act. The changes would be divided into three separate section 60 orders, so that should one application be delayed it would not affect the others.


A consultation on the proposed changes had originally been scheduled for January, but the Department of Health told C+D yesterday (July 24) a date had still not been agreed.


Last year, programme board chair Ken Jarrold told C+D the board had made dispensing errors a fast-track issue and hoped to pass legislation to decriminalise them by the end of 2014. But there was still "a huge amount of detailed work" to do before a consultation on the draft changes to the law was made available, he said at the time.


Under section 64 of the Medicines Act, it is a criminal offence for a pharmacist or technician to dispense the wrong product, even in error.


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5 Comments

David Miller, Hospital pharmacist

Hopefully it will apply to all pharmacists and equally importantly all pharmacy technicians who could in theory be prosecuted under the strict liability provisions of section 64 for an inadvertent dispensing error irrespective of their area of work.

Clive Hodgson, Community pharmacist

Welcome news about the battle for decimalisation of dispensing errors.

However I note in the article report of:
“giving pharmacy regulators power to decide whether a responsible pharmacist needs to be on the premises at all times.”

This sounds like Remote Supervision.

There will be quite a few parties (Multiples) lobbying the regulators hard for R.S. for their own commercial benefit.

In the haste to pass Decriminalisation legislation there needs to be some vigilance to ensure R.S. does not get tacked on and passed through on the nod.

N O, Pharmaceutical Adviser

May be it's more like Give a sweety and add a bitter pill on top ;-)

[email protected], Community pharmacist

I reckon DS that you are entirely correct. Call me a pessimist but I can see the situation that remote supervision gets thru but the decimalisation of dispensing errors might get delayed as after "the timetable was "very tight" to change the law before the general election in May 2015".

N O, Pharmaceutical Adviser

At last some relief. But, who will save us from the GPhC, who treat us as criminals anyway !!

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