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Community pharmacy must learn to delegate, says ethics group

Joy Wingfield says pharmacists are reluctant to delegate because they believe they will carry the can either way

Confusion about job roles is preventing community pharmacists from delegating work to pharmacy technicians and limiting the potential of community pharmacy to provide care to patients, according to an organisation of lawyers, ethicists and pharmacists.

The Pharmacy Law and Ethics Association (PLEA) has come up with four ways for pharmacy teams to improve delegation, which were produced following the annual PLEA seminar in London on 20 May 2014.

Pharmacy teams should understand the difference between delegation and the distribution of tasks. Support staff should have the right skills to deliver the task. And each task should be clearly described and adequately supervised.

“The real problem is that community pharmacists feel that they will carry the can whether or not they delegate so there is a reluctance to delegate,” says Joy Wingfield professor of pharmacy law and ethics at the University of Nottingham and PLEA chairman.

“Pharmacy technicians also haven’t really been helped to understand that there is a difference between being a dispenser and a registered health professional who should be able to accept tasks and accept responsibly for them, and be paid for taking that responsibility,” she adds.  

Pharmacists could use existing NHS guidance and learn from the experience of other health professions, such as doctors and dentists, if they want to become more confident delegators, according to the PLEA.


Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal DOI: 10.1211/PJ.2014.11138706

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