In a letter, sent to Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) assembly candidates last week, contractors Mike Hewitson and Ben Merriman stated that “many community pharmacists are extremely concerned” that the Department of Health plans to “empower pharmacy technicians to supervise pharmacies”.
Speaking to C+D the day after the announcement of his upcoming retirement, John D'Arcy said supervision rules “have got to change” to allow pharmacists to complete additional clinical work.
"It doesn’t make sense to be...physically checking every single prescription you dispense,” he said on Tuesday (July 18).
“Some pharmacies can’t do any more scripts and do it safely. You look at the volume and think: something’s got to give.”
The debate over supervision has been "raging" throughout his 37-year pharmacy career, Mr D’Arcy said. “I am not for one minute suggesting we don’t have pharmacists involved in community pharmacy,” he stressed.
However, the sector needs to implement a system that allows for more “headroom, retains accountability, retains the importance of pharmacists” and “starts a process that allows us to do more of what we need to be doing”, he added.
“Sensitivities” around supervision
“I fully understand the sensitivity around...pharmacists becoming redundant...if you allow technicians to supervise," he said.
But Mr D'Arcy pointed out that “with supervision, if you don’t relax it, you become so busy that you can’t do it.”
Pharmacy teams cannot take on any more work, unless there is a “radical rethink” to the “process of adding value to prescription supply”, he added.
Although supervision cannot be ignored, the “bigger debate has to be around accountability”, Mr D’Arcy said.
"The key thing is to have a process – a quality assurance system – to say, 'I'm accountable for that prescription, and it if goes wrong, it is my name on the block'," he added.