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Society will not ask Department of Health to delay responsible pharmacist regulations

The Royal Pharmaceutical Society will not be asking the Department ofHealth to delay the start date for the responsible pharmacistregulations, but it has called for clarification of what will berequired of pharmacists when the regulations are implemented

The Royal Pharmaceutical Society will not be asking the Department of Health to delay the start date for the responsible pharmacist regulations, but it has called for clarification of what will be required of pharmacists when the regulations are implemented.

The issues the Society says need to be clarified are: the definition of operation of a pharmacy, for example, whether staff will be able to unpack deliveries or assemble prescriptions without a responsible pharmacist being signed in; requirements to remain contactable during an absence from the pharmacy for a rest break; and whether a responsible pharmacist should read all the standard operating procedures before starting work as a responsible pharmacist.

In a statement issued yesterday (29 July 2009), the Society said it will undertake “urgent work” so that clarification is received before the responsible pharmacist requirements are introduced.

On the Society’s decision not to request a delay of the implementation date, Steve Churton, President of the Society, commented: “The regulations were published a year ago following the fairly lengthy period of consultation and discussion in the profession and a number of organisations and employers have produced support material or plan to deliver training in the lead up to that date.”

He added: “The responsibilities of the responsible pharmacist are not significantly different to the current responsibilities of the pharmacist in personal control. . . . The views of a number of leading hospital pharmacists also informed our thinking and they stated the implementation of the responsible pharmacist requirements should not be delayed as clear guidance would be available for hospital pharmacy shortly.”

PDA: Council does not understand regulations

Mark Koziol, chairman of the Pharmacists’ Defence Association, told The Journal that he is “strongly concerned” that the Society is not seeking to delay implementation of the responsible pharmacist regulations despite appearing not to know enough about them.

“The Council has demonstrated it doesn’t understand what the regulations are all about,” he said. “What clarification does one need? . . . The regulations are absolutely clear,” he added.

Mr Koziol said that the PDA’s position remains that the regulations are in “desperate need for repair”, and argued that the training that was promised has not been delivered.

“Our programme stays on course. . . . We have intensified our campaign. We appeal to more pharmacists to sign Graeme Stafford’s petition.” However, he pointed out: “It’s a delay we are calling for, not an abolishment.”

Society responds

Mr Churton responded: “I’m pretty confident that Council understand what the implications are.”

He pointed out that there had been ample opportunity for objections to be raised since the regulations were laid over a year ago.

“We must work to remove anxiety. . . . Calling for a delay is the easy suggestion but it’s not the right answer,” Mr Churton said, adding that two months was enough time to seek clarity and implement the regulations.

If, when the DoH provides clarity, it appears that the regulations need to be changed in any way, then delaying their implementation would be “inevitable”, Mr Churton acknowledged.

However, he said: “Pharmacists often have to live with some ambiguity.” He said that he is hopeful that the level of ambiguity will not be such that pharmacists are unable to work effectively and exercise professional judgement.

“By and large, the legal, ethical and professional obligations of pharmacists will not change [when the regulations are introduced],” Mr Churton said.

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal URI: 10972377

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