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Supervision board chair: Here's why we must have private discussions

Ken Jarrold: I will allow every opportunity for discussion and respect the views of all those I work with.

Ken Jarrold, the chair of the Department of Health board overseeing the pharmacy supervision proposals, says it's important the group can have "open conversations" while it debates its controversial work.

Community pharmacy is an essential part of the NHS and lies at the heart of communities: where we live, work and travel.

We are all aware of the increasing pressure on the NHS, and it is right that the government looks at how we best integrate the skills of pharmacy teams, so that healthcare is provided in the most efficient and effective way possible. This is evident from the recommissioning of flu vaccinations from community pharmacy, with over half a million provided in the first five weeks of this campaign.

To support this wider ambition, I was appointed to chair the independent rebalancing medicines legislation and pharmacy regulation programme board. The board’s task is to advise the government and devolved administrations on how best to move from pharmacy practice matters set out in legislation, to an approach based on professional standards, in line with other healthcare professionals.

Work has already moved apace on numerous issues of importance to pharmacy. Before Christmas we will see legislation laid before parliament to provide a new defence for inadvertent dispensing errors in community pharmacy, facilitating greater learning from such errors. A consultation on similar provisions for hospital settings will follow in the new year.

We have also worked to ensure there is clarity on the professional roles of superintendent and responsible pharmacists. This work programme is set out clearly in our published terms of reference.

The board has also been discussing the role of pharmacy professionals, including registered pharmacy technicians. This is absolutely crucial to making the most effective use of the whole pharmacy team and their diverse range of skills, as it is to no one’s benefit if these skills are underdeveloped or underused.

In developing our proposals for ministers, we are committed to ensuring appropriate quality assurance systems are in place to support any changes to legislation and maintain patient confidence and safety.

I’ve been frustrated and disappointed that board discussions have been leaked. The publication of conversations from 14 months ago – when the board is still debating the issue today – is causing unnecessary, if understandable, worry. It’s really important that we are able to have open conversations at the board about the challenges and opportunities pharmacy faces.

I have always, on this board, and in my previous role as chair of the pharmacy regulation and leadership oversight group, done my very best to take people with me, to allow every opportunity for discussion and to respect the views of all those I work with. That is how I continue to work.

So it will be only when the board has decided on draft proposals that will we share them more widely with the partners forum, among whose members are the Pharmacists' Defence Association (PDA). The PDA has not been excluded from discussions and will have their say, alongside other members of the partners' forum.

The PDA is fully aware of the pathway along which these discussions progress and it is disappointing that they have chosen to mislead their members. It will only be once we have taken on board the views of the partners' forum that the board will firm up its proposals and make recommendations to ministers and the devolved administrations. That has always been, and remains, the way we intend to proceed.

I know how important it is to listen, which is why the board is respectfully and carefully considering all views put before us. We are dedicated to seeing community pharmacies flourish and continue to make a vital contribution to the provision of safe and high-quality healthcare. I am determined that pharmacy will continue to be a trusted partner in delivering a world class National Health Service, and I look forward to working with you to make this a reality.

Ken Jarrold is chair of the Department of Health's rebalancing medicines legislation and pharmacy regulation programme board.


Locum Pharmacist, Locum pharmacist

"Before Christmas we will see legislation laid before parliament to provide a new defence for inadvertent dispensing errors in community pharmacy"

How many years and prosecuted pharmacists has it been so far?? Why the sudden urgency?

The DoH seem eager to lay out the red carpet for when technicians take over from pharmacists. They are all a bunch of hypocrites- the RPS, APTUK GPhC etc. They keep stating how important it is to have open conversations whilst holding secret meetings the past few years regarding issues that will negatively impact upon pharmacists and patient safety. It is truly horrifying how little common sense and real-world understanding of healthcare individuals in positions of authority possess.

martin gibson, Locum pharmacist

How can Ken say that PDA have not been excluded from the discussion when, plainly, they have been?    Turns out the PDA will only be "allowed to comment" retrospectively on a fait accompli ..... but they should have been involved from the very start. 

Leon The Apothecary, Student

Open and Honest are the cornerstones of the pharmacy profession. Ken would do well to consider that. 

Jonny Johal, Pharmacy Area manager/ Operations Manager

This Ken is so very "Yes, Minister", typical civil service personnel, makes me laugh. Why don't we find him credible?

Dave Downham, Manager

So, Ken, who's your mole?

Kevin Western, Community pharmacist

" We are dedicated to seeing community pharmacies flourish" so where are all these mythical services we are supposed to have to replace the vanishing dispensing income? the flu service was a step forward but that was years ago... you are going to have to do better than that, and if you think that Boots idea of a flourishing Pharmacy includes a Pharmacist if you give them an out you shouldnt be in the job

Ilove Pharmacy, Non Pharmacist Branch Manager

I agree. Corrupt practices and crooked relationships can't work effectively in public discussions. Behind closed doors is always best.

PARESH shah, Community pharmacist

Trust is very important. At the moment the NHS and all its quangos are the least trusted and all this discussion makes it even worse after all that has happened in the last 2 years. At the moment pharmacists have NO confidence in the NHS and all this discussion in private is not making it any better. The NHS is making itself like a DICTATOR .

Simon MEDLEY, Community pharmacist

'' work has moved apace''  '' decriminalisation of dispnesing errors''... that will be a snails pace then


Paul Dishman, Pharmaceutical Adviser

With the way that successive governments have behaved towards the pharmacy profession, is it any wonder that pharmacists fear a stitch-up? Weasel words, Mr Jarrold, weasel words. What have you to fear from discussions taking place in public?



Locum Pharmacist, Locum pharmacist

I imagine he feared people with a shred of sense may actually pick up on the fact that they are trying to save save money whilst endangering public safety. Based on that criteria, RPS, APTUK and the GPhC were no danger.

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