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Counter assistants will not be covered by vetting and barring scheme

By News team

Medicines counter assistants will no longer have to register with the Government’s proposed vetting and barring scheme (VBS), which is being established to protect children and vulnerable adults.

The Home Office has specifically cited medicines counter assistants among those roles that will now be excluded from registration in a new scaled down version (PDF 140K) of the original proposals which were put forward by the previous Labour government.

The decision was described as "common sense" by Pharmacy Voice. Its chief executive Rob Darracott said: "We are pleased that the Government is apparently making good on its commitment to bring the scheme into proper proportion.

"We made the point repeatedly to Government that medicines counter assistants should not be covered en masse. Officials appear to have listened to us."However, the position for pharmacists and technicians is unclear. “We are still working through the implications of the Bill,” said Mr Darracot.


Because the onus will be on employers to make decisions about which staff and would-be staff fall within the scheme, it is imperative that there is absolute clarity in guidance from the Government, he added.

In its review of the VBS — which coincided with publication of the Protection of Freedoms Bill that will enshrine the new system in law — the Government admitted that a blanket registration of all people who come into contact with children in a paid or voluntary capacity placed safeguarding in the wrong place — on the shoulders of the state rather than on the employer or individual.

The review said: "It is the effective management of risk rather than aversion of risk which is most likely to protect vulnerable people."

The new scheme will only apply to people who have "regular or close contact with vulnerable groups" and who work in "regulated activity" roles, the review says.

It would, however, still be up to an employer to request a criminal records bureau check on any employee if they felt it necessary, it adds.

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal URI: 11068591

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