Cookie policy: This site uses cookies (small files stored on your computer) to simplify and improve your experience of this website. Cookies are small text files stored on the device you are using to access this website. For more information please take a look at our terms and conditions. Some parts of the site may not work properly if you choose not to accept cookies.


Subscribe or Register

Existing user? Login


Pharmacy automation

Chief pharmaceutical officer admits he misled MPs over hub and spoke dispensing

Keith Ridge, England's chief pharmaceutical officer

Source: Nadia Attura

Keith Ridge says he apologises for inadvertently misleading the All-Party Pharmacy Group committee and for any subsequent confusion

England’s chief pharmaceutical officer Keith Ridge has admitted that data he gave to an All-Party Pharmacy Group (APPG) inquiry suggesting that hub and spoke dispensing is ‘much safer’ than traditional dispensing were inaccurate.

Giving evidence to the APPG’s inquiry into primary and community care on 16 March 2016, Ridge said that community pharmacists have a ‘professional obligation’ to adopt automated dispensing because the error rate is much lower. Ridge cited evidence from literature that the error rate in community pharmacy in the UK “is around 3%” compared to large-scale automated dispensing facilities in Sweden, which he said had an error rate of 0.00001%.

However, the error rate for Sweden turned out to be almost double the rate Ridge quoted. In a statement published on 11 May 2016, Ridge said: “I was referring to the error rate published by Apotekstjanst AB in Sweden – in fact the published rate is 0.0000185%.” Additionally, this Swedish error rate is for dispensing “pouches” of medication, something which is not routine practice in the UK.

Ridge also admitted that the UK community pharmacy data error rate of “around 3%” that he quoted was based on observational data. “Now that I know the error rate from Sweden is determined by reporting, it is not appropriate [to] draw a direct comparison. I apologise for inadvertently misleading the committee and for any subsequent confusion,” he added.

That community pharmacy figure comes from a 2009 review which quotes a UK observational study showing dispensing error rates of 3.32%.

A spokesperson for the National Pharmacy Association (NPA), the trade association for independent community pharmacy professionals in the UK, says: “The Department of Health’s hub and spoke proposal is flawed – and this is just one of many claims that are unravelling.”

The NPA also criticised the references that Ridge had relied on. “Those significant criticisms of the research should, we believe, have been declared to the APPG,” the spokesperson added.

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal DOI: 10.1211/PJ.2016.20201147

Readers' comments (4)

  • That's disgraceful. People in a position to influence policy must get their facts right. He is not the only one who has misinformed policy makers. GET IT RIGHT!

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Mr Ridge's apology for offering incorrect or misleading information to the All Party Group in support of the Hub and Spoke principle must surely discredit the whole idea of automated dispensing.
    There is, however, serious "Fall Out" from this apology because if Mr Ridge was provided with incorrect information by his advisers on this matter, can we be sure that similarly incorrect information was not given by advisers to support the Remuneration Cuts of 6%.and that the whole system of financing Community Pharmacy is not riddled with incorrect information intended to justify the unjustifisable

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Resignation is the only acceptable apology

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • There is no defence of' 'inadvertently misleading' the APPG when you hold the level of responsibility and influence that Mr Ridge does. He cannot command the confidence or respect of the pharmacy profession he has oversight of nor MPs in parliament. His position is untenable - RESIGN.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

Have your say

For commenting, please login or register as a user and agree to our Community Guidelines. You will be re-directed back to this page where you will have the ability to comment.

Recommended from Pharmaceutical Press

  • Print
  • Share
  • Comment
  • Save
  • Print Friendly Version of this pagePrint Get a PDF version of this webpagePDF

Supplementary images

  • Keith Ridge, England's chief pharmaceutical officer

Newsletter Sign-up

Want to keep up with the latest news, comment and CPD articles in pharmacy and science? Subscribe to our free alerts.