The NPA said it reacted with “alarm” to detailed proposals for pharmacy technicians to be handed legal responsibility for supervising the supply of prescription-only medicines (POMs), which have been submitted to a Department of Health (DH) programme board.
C+D exclusively revealed on Wednesday (September 13) that a working group, established by the UK’s four chief pharmaceutical officers, has suggested amending legislation to allow a “registered pharmacy professional” – such as a pharmacy technician – to supervise the sale and supply of pharmacy (P) medicines and POMs.
NPA chairman Ian Strachan said the “dubious thinking” behind the proposals would put patients at risk from “healthcare on the cheap”.
“Medicines have the power to harm as well as heal, and it’s irresponsible even to contemplate downgrading safety procedures in pharmacies,” he stressed.
Government officials must “get in line”
Last month, health secretary Jeremy Hunt attempted to “reassure” a locum pharmacist about rumours that the government will allow pharmacy technicians to legally supervise medicines supply.
In light of the confidential proposals revealed by C+D, Mr Strachan called on the health secretary to “tell his officials to get in line with the commitments he himself has made on patient safety”.
“Pharmacy technicians play an important role in pharmacy teams, but this is not the same role as the pharmacist, who undergoes years of pharmacological training in order to qualify,” Mr Strachan stressed.
“The curriculum for technicians is very different.”
“Pharmacists intervene on millions of occasions each year to prevent prescribing errors. Without those interventions, there is no doubt that some patients would come to serious harm,” he added.
Read how the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) has responded to the pharmacy supervision proposals here.