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RPS fears Brexit could delay decriminalisation reforms

RPS: Will do utmost to progress this vital issue

Royal Pharmaceutical Society tells C+D that Brexit "may have repercussions on the timetable" for decriminalisation of dispensing errors

The Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) fears that Brexit will delay its push for the decriminalisation of dispensing errors.

The fallout from a vote for the UK to leave the European Union, and a possible cabinet reshuffle following the resignation of Prime Minister David Cameron, could delay the RPS's long-running battle to end automatic criminal sanctions for inadvertent mistakes by pharmacists and their staff.

“Decriminalisation of dispensing errors is still very much on our agenda for 2016,” RPS president Ash Soni told delegates at the society's annual general meeting on Wednesday (June 22) – a day before the UK voted for Brexit.

He added: “Ending automatic criminalisation has long been a key issue. But I can assure you we are doing everything possible.”

Decriminalisation "must remain high on agenda"

But RPS spokesperson Neal Patel told C+D the society has concerns that their discussions with the government would be delayed by the uncertainty and upheaval brought about by Brexit.

Mr Patel said: “It remains to be seen – the outcome of the vote may have repercussions on the timetable for government business – but we will be doing our utmost to progress this vital issue.”

“We are clear decriminalisation must remain high on the government’s agenda and are working with the Department of Health (DH) through the Rebalancing Programme Board to make sure this is so.” 

Ongoing delays

The DH told C+D in December that it expected to agree the draft change to the law this spring. However, in January the chair of the board overseeing the initiative, Ken Jarrold, told C+D that it is “unlikely” that dispensing errors will be decriminalised before the autumn.

Mr Soni said the RPS will also be pushing for full access to care records. “Professionals acting without full information is becoming increasingly untenable," he said. 

RPS president loss

His comments came a day before Mr Soni lost his position as RPS president, after two years in the role.

The society announced yesterday (June 23) that, following a vote by assembly members for 2016-17, Mr Soni “will no longer be president” after the next assembly meeting on July 19.  

How does the government plan to change the law?

Under the governmennt's proposals, a pharmacy professional or unregistered member of staff would have a defence against a criminal sanction for an inadvertent dispensing error if they meet "strict conditions".

These include showing they had acted “in the course of [their] profession”, had made a supply on the back of a prescription or patient group directive, and “promptly” informed the patient about the error once discovered.

Criminal sanctions should only apply if there is proof "beyond reasonable doubt" that the pharmacist either misused their professional skills "for an improper purpose" or shown "a deliberate disregard for patient safety".

Failing to follow the pharmacy's procedures would not constitute grounds for criminal proceedings on its own.

Source: DH consultation, February 2015


How do you think Brexit will affect community pharmacy?

We want to hear your views, but please express them in the spirit of a constructive, professional debate. For more information about what this means, please click here to see our community principles and information

What do you think about the delays?

Uma Patel, Community pharmacist

DH has been dragging it's feet for 6 years.They will find any excuse to delay.

There are no votes in the reform

Pill Counter, Pharmacy

Other than the obvious loss of liberty prison could offer a great career break for pharmacists allowing them to learn skills to enable a change in profession. Every cloud has a silver lining they say.......

Pill Counter, Pharmacy

Other than the obvious loss of liberty prison could offer a great career break for pharmacists allowing them to learn skills to enable a change in profession. Every cloud has a silver lining they say.......

Cod Fillet, Community pharmacist

You should be bloody proud Brexit voters! Just because you felt insecure and intimidated by the knowledge and work ethic of a few European pharmacists! Well done. Little Britain it is. Even EMEA will now have to move headquarters from London.

Farm Assistant, Community pharmacist

I'm not going to let you get away with that crap. So you think objecting to a 30% pay decrease for locums over the last five years makes me a Little Englander? And by the way my drug knowledge is excellent if not better than most European pharmacists although I am getting lazier by the day because I am so fed up.

Pill Counter, Pharmacy

We must keep it up till eventually employees and locums will have to pay to do a shift in a multiple. What a privilege that'll be. Don't forget to tell the students of these attractions waiting for them on qualifying. And don't forget to mention the pleasures of prosecution for an avoidable mistake due to inadequate staffing and unreachable MUR targets.

Pill Counter, Pharmacy

With BREXIT there will be an urgent need to open more schools of pharmacy to keep driving down pharmacist salaries.

Farm Assistant, Community pharmacist

No need as a certain chain has just cut their locum rate by £[email protected] But as you say our masters will carry on shafting us by opening more schools of pharmacy.

Angela Channing, Community pharmacist

Really, who?  Can't be long before we are paying for the pleasure of a day full of stress and hassle at the Shoe shop or the Bank ???! ----------- Well done to all who voted for Brexit. Back to a democratic and sovereign nation. 

Emma Manley, Locum pharmacist

£2? I thought it was £1? Unless of course we are talking about more than one chain? 

Pill Counter, Pharmacy

Another £2 reduction, fantastic!! The 'profession' improves on a daily basis. This must be part of the 'progress' Ash Soni speaks of. He'll certainly be missed by many. Let's all hope the next president can maintain the giant strides currently being seen in community pharmacy.

Farm Assistant, Community pharmacist

This is getting ridiculous. They will be blaming the delay on the weather next. BREXIT! Rock & Roll!

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