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Regulation in healthcare

UK pharmacy regulator issues guidance on services not provided face to face

The General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) has issued guidance on the provision of non-traditional services when patients may not have face-to-face contact with a pharmacist. Such services include the electronic prescription service, the collection and delivery of prescriptions and online pharmacy services.

The guidance addresses five areas that have a role in safeguarding patients and the public: governance arrangements; staff empowerment and competence; the environment and condition of premises; service delivery; and pharmacy equipment and facilities. It is intended to be read alongside the standards for registered pharmacies and will be subject to regular review.

GPhC chief executive Duncan Rudkin says that feedback provided during a consultation on a draft version of the guidance in late 2014 helped to ensure that “the guidance strikes the right balance between supporting innovation and providing medicines or pharmacy services in a way that is safe”.

The community pharmacy organisation Pharmacy Voice welcomed the guidance. “Patients who use pharmacies either online, via mail order, or face-to-face must be guaranteed the same level of professional and ethical service,” says its director of policy Elizabeth Wade.

The Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) welcomed the GPhC’s upholding of “many of the comments and suggestions the RPS made in its consultation response, particularly around the need for assuring patient safety however and wherever pharmaceutical services are delivered”, says Aileen Bryson, policy and practice lead for Scotland. “Our forthcoming professional standards for repeat medication will give more support for members on the detailed day-to-day running of these services.” 

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal DOI: 10.1211/PJ.2015.20068397

Readers' comments (1)

  • The guidance is welcome, particularly as the GPhC have made efforts to take the responses to the consultation into account and ensure that the final version is a substantially better document than the original put out for consultation. It's particularly welcome as it demonstrates that there really is a distinction to providing pharmacy services remotely and that the specialism is worthy of specific skills, training and guidance.

    It's also good to see the recognition in the guidance that 'supply' takes place at the pharmacy, when the goods leave the pharmacy, irrespective of when, where and how the delivery to the patient is made.

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