Layer 1

Sector bodies resume talks to ‘refresh’ parts of pharmacy supervision

PDA: Too early to see if these discussions will result in a plan

AIMp, the CCA and the NPA have formed a cross-sector group to “refresh” discussions around changes to supervision in pharmacy, C+D has learned.

While discussions will not focus on remote supervision, the bodies stressed, the group will analyse “some elements of supervision that may need refreshing” following “current and emergency pharmacy practice”, they told C+D yesterday (May 4).

“We want the pharmacist presence in the pharmacy to become more, not less, visible to patients,” the Association of Independent Multiple Pharmacies (AIMp), the Company Chemists’ Association (CCA) and the National Pharmacy Association (NPA) said in the joint statement.

“Keeping the critical role of a pharmacist in the pharmacy is essential to us and so is maximising the clinical skills and knowledge of pharmacists. We can all agree that patient safety is paramount,” they added.

RPS and PDA invited to discussions

C+D understands that the group resumed the discussions on supervision in pharmacy towards the end of last year.

The group invited representatives from both the Pharmacists’ Defence Association (PDA) and the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) to their recent meetings, as they recognise that “it is vitally important for pharmacists to understand and have a voice on supervision”.

“We intend to move forward on the basis of a broad consensus and look forward to finding a way forward together,” AIMp, the CCA and the NPA added.

PDA survey on supervision steering group

The PDA said it had shared a survey with its members last week, in which it asked “what kind of supervision steering group structure they might support”.

“It is too early to see if any of these discussions result in a concrete action plan,” the PDA said in a statement to C+D. But it stressed that it will ensure that patient safety is “at the forefront of any considerations”.

C+D revealed in 2017 that proposals for pharmacy technicians to supervise prescription-only medicine supply had been produced for the Department of Health and Social Care.

The proposals were met with much controversy by the sector, and the PDA believes that “the main lesson” that can be learned from that episode is that “pharmacists must have confidence in whatever group is going to consider the issue of pharmacy supervision going forward”.

Make pharmacists “more available”

The PDA argued that it is “widely felt within the profession” that rules on supervision need to be updated.

Any changes to these rules should be made with the aim of making “pharmacists more available to the public in a community pharmacy and not less so, which would be the case if remote supervision were to be introduced”, the PDA added.

PDA chairman Mark Koziol said: “The COVID crisis has produced a once in a generation opportunity for greater recognition of community pharmacy, but this surely must be based upon the greater availability of the pharmacist.

“We must not squander it by squabbling over a choice of two stark options: the first is a race to the bottom driven by a cost-cutting exercise, with no pharmacist present to maximise short-term profits.

“The other is a richer, more professionally fulfilling role for pharmacists in the community pharmacy – delivering benefits for the health service and a dramatically improved patient journey.”

24 Comments
Question: 
Do you agree that some aspects of pharmacy supervision need updating?

Tom Jerry, Community pharmacist

Only Pharmacist's should be deciding on what sort of arrangements we would like with regards to Supervision, it should not be a decision of Corporates or Organisations for their betterment.

Firstly we need to abolish "RP", which other professional prefession has to sign in this day and age, this law needs to be appealed firstly before we move onto other matters.

Pear Tree, Community pharmacist

Absolutely! I have yet to see the responsible GP stuck in GP waiting rooms, or the responsible dentist splashed in dental clinics. It denotes mistrust and transfer of liability from owner to pharmacist should things go wrong. Acceptance and signing as the RP forms a legal defence for owners to claim the pharmacist should have raised the issue of understaffing while simultaneously ignoring when such pleas are raised by pharmacists. 

M. Rx(n), Student

The problem IS NOT the RP regulations. The problem is the actual regulatory backing and authority to go with it.

Let's not shoot ourselves in the foot here. Had it not been for the RP regulations Pharmacists would have been made even more toothless than they are at the moment in the current climate.

If Pharmacist were the sole operators of Pharmacies, then it would be redundant. But in the face of commercial and other vested interests it is NECESSARY to clearly legislate the safety of the patient and the public to the PROFESSIONAL, i.e. YOU.

You are better trusted by law to put all other interests aside to look after the patient --- because there are many competing interests in operating a Pharmacy; believe it or not the Patient is usually not the first priority.

M. Rx(n), Student

And if the RP regulations are repealed what concrete grounds would you have to secure a Pharmacy Premises?

The RP regulations is to GIVE the individual Pharmacist the legal discretion
and liability to safeguard the interest of the patient and public against all other interests!!!!

It is the only reason you still have any say today in a Pharmacy!

Tom Jerry, Community pharmacist

Whether your a RP or not you are always responsible as a professional in whatever line of practice you engage yourself as a pharmacist; the GPhC will tell you that.

M. Rx(n), Student

Except you are also LEGALLY - not just  professionally - expected to actually SECURE the safe operation a Pharmacy. As soon as you sign in as an RP you have to risk-manage that Pharmacy until you sign out -- the 'owner'/shareholder/CEO/Superintendent whatever, has no power; you have to fly that plane home. The LAW expects that AT THE POINT OF CARE. 

A pharmacist must therefore be cautious of which pharmacy they agree to take on. You have that discretion.

If pharmacists were that picky the shoddy pharmacies will be out of business. Which is why Pharmacy operators cannot dictate supervision laws. If they are struggling to find pharmacists the NHS and DoH and GPhC must demand better of them.

Edward H Rowan, Locum pharmacist

There are probably many pharmacies that aren't operating safely on a regular basis. If the pharmacist doesn't sign in as RP, they'll find another one who will.

M. Rx(n), Student

And what does that say about Pharmacists? But hey...we've got to eat, right?

That's my point, the RP regulations is intended to give a prospective RP the legal authority/discretion to either pick their Pharmacies wisely OR impose stringent risk controls if you find yourself in a dangerous setting

The fact that Pharmacists, as a class, think insularly and, in the matter of asserting themselves, are shrinking violets does not impugne the essence of the RP regulations. Granted the GPhC could provide better regulatory backing.

Tom Jerry, Community pharmacist

Granted, I also dont want to loose the supervision but for what I get paid £25/hr do I really want all those risks involved with RP Glam which is nothing but a shackle and nothing more

M. Rx(n), Student

If Pharmacists, as a group of highly skilled and educated Professionals, applied the RP regulations as intended their working conditions would improve and maybe then £25/he wouldn't be outrageous.

And better yet, their stock would rise and the corporate overlords wouldn't take them for granted.

M. Rx(n), Student

This is not a complicated concept...

A PHARMACIST must be in physical control of the process of furnishing a restricted Pharmacological agent to a patient in order to be able to intervene right up until that substance physically lands in the hands of the patient.

A good familiarisation with the basis of Pharmacy and Medical education will quickly disabuse anyone of the notion that even supply of regularised repeat medication should occur out of the purview of a PHARMACIST.

A Pharmacy operator or "owner" does not get to dictate the terms of Pharmacy provision. The NHS and DoH must demand better and set even more rigorous contractual terms. The GPhC must also put their foot down.

Contrary to popular myth, Pharmacy operators are in it for the money like any other business. The problem is that the current model is now being found out due to its extreme commercial exploitation.

And instead of knowing when enough is enough and curbing their excesses, the very  architects of the situation have resolved to bend the sector to their ends. Excuse me... Pharmacy doesn't work like that.

mark straughton, Pharmaceutical Adviser

Here we go again.....

Another set of 'discussions' about supervision.

I've often wondered why remote supervision legislation hasn't come into place already. Clearly there's very little powers to stop this and it's exactly what the corportates are lobbying for. I've concluded that as soon as this occurs it will represent a seismic shift in the employment of community pharmacists. Any multiple or chain will pounce on the opportunity overnight. Even a small group of 3 independents with 3 FT pharmacists for example will relish the chance to have just the 1 pharmacist in change and just have the 1 salary. 

The jobs of 1000's of community pharmacists hinge on this legality which mean a pharmacist is needed on the premises at all times. So they're trying to impose this in a step wise manner over many years to prevent a mass redundancy scenario.

Clive Hodgson, Community pharmacist

When bodies such as the AIMp and the CCA talk of a “group to “refresh” discussions around changes to supervision in pharmacy” they have only a thinly disguised cost cutting agenda in mind. Nothing more. 

Remote Supervision in some form will be high, if not top, on their agenda despite claims it won’t be the focus.

The claim in their joint statement that “We want the pharmacist presence in the pharmacy to become more, not less, visible to patients,” is I feel just vacuous, misleading rhetoric.

The concept of “freeing up” pharmacists to provide nebulous and undefined clinical services is nothing more than an euphemism for pharmacist redundancy.

 

C A, Community pharmacist

What they want is a neon sign like motels in movies, except instead of vacancy/no vacancy, they'll have Pharmacist/No Pharmacist

M. Rx(n), Student

In that case, they can pack up, give up the NHS contracts and open a chain of convenience corner shops!

If you want to operate a PHARMACY, then PAY whatever is needed to retain a Pharmacist and a backup Pharmacist on speed dial.  The bonuses of the corporate fat cats and some of the  shareholder dividends can go towards that. 

IT MUST REMAIN THAT A PHARMACY MUST BE UNDER THE DIRECT PHYSICAL CHARGE OF A PHARMACIST AT ALL TIMES OF OPERATION.

There's NO compromising.

mark straughton, Pharmaceutical Adviser

Yes you're right here. But as things stand there's no cohesion or mechanism that would allow Pharmacists to maintain this vision. Ask the average community pharmacist to explain the concept of remote supervision and they draw a blank. Mainly because they're so stressed and involved in their own pharmacy teams they haven't got the effort to look around at what's happening. To them it's inconceivable that a pharmacist can be removed from the dispensary but that's exactly what their leaders want. The pharmacist £40-£50k salary is exactly what they want to remove and replace with a £25k salary technician.

M. Rx(n), Student

This is not a complicated concept...

A PHARMACIST must be in physical control of the process of furnishing a restricted Pharmacological agent to a patient in order to be able to intervene right up until that substance physically lands in the hands of the patient.

A good familiarisation with the basis of Pharmacy and Medical education will quickly disabuse anyone of the notion that even supply of regularised repeat medication should occur out of the purview of a PHARMACIST.

A Pharmacy operator or "owner" does not get to dictate the terms of Pharmacy provision. The NHS and DoH must demand better and set even more rigorous contractual terms. The GPhC must also put their foot down.

Contrary to popular myth, Pharmacy operators are in it for the money like any other business.

mark straughton, Pharmaceutical Adviser

You're right and I fully agree. But use of the words 'should' and 'must' isn't going to change what WILL happen in their pursue of remote supervision.

Pear Tree, Community pharmacist

Remote supervision is the final nail in the coffin for pharmacy and, let's not kid ourselselves, the sole focus of this group is to achieve this at any cost. They have gotten away with eroding the notion of community pharmacy and now all that's left is to eject the pharmacist from the institution once and for all. The bottom line should then look a lot healthier for the cartel. 

Interleukin -2, Community pharmacist

.....I disagree forgive me. I'd have said the pharmacy apprenticeship programme definitely

MrR Patel, Community pharmacist

As a member of the NPA this is the first time I am hearing about this which shows that the NPA are not representative of their members. That organisation has gone downhill in the past few years and is not fit for purpose. Their incompetent leaders and whoever is responsible for membership at the NPA should resign. 

Joe Locum, Community pharmacist

It should be the PDA and RPS dictating to the multiples, CCA and NPA about supervision as the contractors cannot be trusted to put patients needs or the profession first. They should have no say in this process. They have a desire and a long history of acting like a cartel on pharmacist wages, suppressing the profession and putting profits before patients.

Ps. Dear multiples, please stop calling people with prescriptions and looking for advice, customers. They are patients.

It's time for the multiples and independent multiples seriously up their game. They are an embarrassment to the profession.

M. Rx(n), Student

Any watered-down perversion of current supervision laws should be balked at by the RPS and PDA and GPhC and NHS and the DoH.

In my view, the rules need further tightening and the bar for owning and operating a Pharmacy raised.

The pity is that Pharmacists themselves have had their hands in the creation of this fiasco. The delusive enticements of corporate careerism and personal aggrandisement at the expense of resolute professionalism has been the bane of Pharmacy.

 

mark straughton, Pharmaceutical Adviser

You're right again. 'should be balked' and 'rules need further tightening'. These are responses that need to be imposed. But they won't. The pharmacy profession is now in a desperate position. The only benefit for any community pharmacist is that this won't happen imminently and there's still at least 5 years, I'd say, to change your career.

Job of the week

Pharmacist Manager
Midlands, Cheshire & Dorset
Salary dependent upon experience