Adopt a patient safety ‘pledge’ before progressing with any changes to requirements around supervising medicines supply, the Pharmacists’ Defence Association and National Pharmacy Association have urged the Department of Health’s Rebalancing Board in a joint statement.

The joint appeal from the PDA and NPA was issued “in light of growing concerns about a relaxation of pharmacist supervision of medicines supply.” NPA chairman Ian Strachan said the adoption of a patient safety pledge “could go a long way to addressing people’s fears.”

The organisations are calling upon members of the board not to present their pharmacy supervision proposals to health secretary Jeremy Hunt until there is evidence that proposed changes to supervision will not harm patients, and there is a “clear view” among key stakeholders about the way to proceed.

The NPA/PDA joint statement reads: “We will present our proposals on pharmacy supervision to the Secretary of State for Health only when the following circumstances prevail:

  • Compelling evidence has been published that the changes proposed will not risk a reduction in patient safety
  • There is a clear case that the changes proposed will make pharmacists more, rather than less accessible, to the public in the community pharmacy setting; and therefore enabling of the further development of a clinical relationship with patients
  • There is a clear view among pharmacists about the way forward
  • There is a clear view among patient representative groups about the way forward
  • Pharmacy technicians understand and are supportive of any new responsibilities and roles that may be proposed for them
  • There has been the widest possible engagement with the front line community pharmacist and pharmacy technicians who would need to implement any proposed changes.”


The NPA’s Ian Strachan said: “The consequences of making the wrong policy choices would be grave for the patients that pharmacies serve. By adopting this pledge, the Board could go a long way to addressing people’s fears. It ought to be very easy and uncontroversial to give a basic assurance on patient safety, and we hope all members of the Board will feel able to do this.”

Pharmacists’ Defence Association chairman Mark Koziol said: “Undoubtedly the rules on supervision need updating but the purpose of these changes must be to build upon community pharmacy’s pivotal role as the place where the public can have access to a pharmacist at any time they require. 

“Any changes must make the pharmacist more available to the public in the community pharmacy setting and not less so. Within this vision, pharmacists can enjoy an enhanced professional role and the ability to further develop their clinical relationship with patients.”

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