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Pharmacy hits out at slow progress on decriminalisation

Practice Pharmacy representatives have backed calls from MPs, urging immediate action on dispensing-error law, and have highlighted the benefits that decriminalisation would have on patient safety.

The government is moving too slowly in its effort to decriminalise dispensing errors, pharmacists have said, after England's chief pharmaceutical officer Keith Ridge admitted it could take another three years to find and implement a solution.

While, pharmacy leaders welcomed the government's move to set up a group charged with decriminalising dispensing errors, they branded the estimated timescale of two to three years too slow. The Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) was among those who backed calls for immediate action, made by MPs at an all-party pharmacy group meeting last week.

"Pharmacists have been promised action in this area and the benefits to both patient safety and the profession means the government should act now," argued RPS head of corporate communications Neal Patel.

"Pharmacists have been promised action in this area and the benefits to both patient safety and the profession means the government should act now" Neal Patel, RPS

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Decriminalisation could take three years

C+D readers also urged the government to take swifter action. Three years was "too long a wait", locum pharmacist Dorothy Drury posted on C+D's website.

"It just goes to show how much the government holds pharmacy in regard. I have no doubt that if this injustice were being suffered by doctors or politicians, it would have been corrected long ago," community pharmacist Yassan Dickie added.

Other pharmacy bodies issued a more muted response. "We hope the group will make the decriminalisation of dispensing errors a priority and find a solution quickly," PSNC head of regulation Steve Lutener said.

And Pharmacy Voice said it would work closely with other pharmacy bodies to "present a consistent case to government" throughout the review.

The Department of Health (DH) outlined plans for a programme board to review medicines legislation and pharmacy regulation, including decriminalisation, on Tuesday (January 29), in a meeting closed to the press. The DH told C+D this week that the board was at its very early stages and there was "no progress to report".

What do you think is the delay in decriminalising dispensing errors?

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Leon The Apothecary, Student

I am looking forward to reading any progress made by the Department of Health board in all aspects of regulationa nd legislation. I feel that it will be subject to much debate in the coming months.

Gerry Diamond, Primary care pharmacist

Live in hope and die in despair!

Gerry Diamond, Primary care pharmacist

A watched kettle never

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