Threat of criminal prosecution 'weighed heavy' for too long

The Department of Health has published a consultation on draft orders that would mean an end to criminal prosecution for dispensing errors and allow the implementation of a new way of regulating registered pharmacists.

The Pharmacy (Preparation and Dispensing Errors) Order 2015 sets out provisions to protect registered pharmacists and pharmacy technicians from criminal prosecution in the event that there is an inadvertent error in the preparation or dispensing of a medicine in the pharmacy.

The order proposes that the pharmacy regulator should have oversight in these situations to make registration sanctions on the individual rather than the matter being dealt with, as now, in criminal court. Errors made by pharmacists and pharmacy technicians acting deliberately in disregard to patient safety will still be punishable by the criminal courts under these changes.

Ash Soni, Royal Pharmaceutical Society president, said these changes would mean an improvement in public safety. ‘The threat of criminal prosecution for reporting dispensing errors has weighed heavy on the profession for too long. The knock-on effect has been a reduction in the potential reporting, sharing and learning from errors that will ultimately improve safety for patients and the public.’ He added that he believed that the proposals ‘offer an opportunity to improve this situation substantially’.

The second draft order outlined in the consultation, The Pharmacy (Premises Standards, Information and Obligations etc) Order 2015, sets out amends to the 2010 Pharmacy order in respect of the General Pharmaceutical Council setting standards for registered pharmacy premises. The amends will mean that a breach of standards will be dealt with by the regulator through registration sanctions and not enforcement notices.

Duncan Rudkin, chief executive of the GPhC, commented: ‘The proposals in this consultation will provide us with the legal framework to implement a future model for publishing inspection reports, enabling us to take the final step towards enforcement against those standards.’

The consultation runs to14 May.


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