Contractors warned Royal Pharmaceutical Society assembly candidates last month that “many community pharmacists are extremely concerned” that a Department of Health programme board plans to “empower pharmacy technicians to supervise pharmacies” as part of its strategy to “rebalance” pharmacy legislation.
But in a letter sent to Labour MP Hilary Benn earlier this month, health secretary Mr Hunt said “the government has not brought forward any proposals to allow pharmacy technicians to supervise pharmacies”.
The “discussions around the role of pharmacists in pharmacies” are part of a wider strategy to “support a more agile pharmacy workforce”, Mr Hunt stressed.
The aim is to “make the best use of the skills and knowledge of pharmacists”, as well as better integrating them with a range of “other healthcare professionals in other settings”, and “us[ing] their clinical skills to optimise the use of medicines”, he added.
Mr Benn – MP for Leeds Central – contacted the Department of Health (DH) on behalf of his locum pharmacist constituent Ubaid Ur-Rehman, who told C+D he had been concerned his responsibilities as a pharmacist were being “diluted”.
“When I first entered pharmacy, I thought I’d be going into a solid career. But as time has gone on, I am starting to realise that it is not what I thought it was,” Mr Ur-Rehman told C+D this morning (August 21).
“I just want some clarity on what is happening with [the profession].”
In his letter, Mr Hunt said he “agree[s] with Mr Ur-Rehman that adequate governance must be in place if we choose to make legislative changes to the current supervision requirements”.
“Other elements of the rebalancing programme reinforce this, with every pharmacy required to have a responsible pharmacist when it is operating,” Mr Hunt said. “The proposed changes will strengthen the governance provided by superintendent pharmacists and responsible pharmacists.”
Mr Hunt “reassured Mr Ur-Rehman” that “any proposed changes to legislation will be subject to full consultation”.
You can read the full letter from Mr Hunt here.