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Profession says it is ill equipped for new regulations

More than 2,000 pharmacists have responded to the Pharmacists’ DefenceAssociation’s survey on the responsible pharmacist (RP) regulationssent out last week (July 2009)

More than 2,000 pharmacists have responded to the Pharmacists’ Defence Association’s survey on the responsible pharmacist (RP) regulations sent out last week (PJ, 18 July 2009, p59), the PDA has revealed, adding that most (90 per cent) said that they have not received appropriate training to enable them to take on the responsibilities.

“Most people don’t believe that we’re ready,” John Murphy, director of the PDA, told The Journal. He added: “In the last month or so, pharmacists have realised what is going to hit them.”

Overall, 93 per cent of survey respondents have stated that the profession will either not be ready at all, or will only be partially ready.

In addition, of the 74 per cent of survey respondents who have seen the RP toolkit provided by the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (PJ, 2 May 2009, p503), 91 per cent have stated that it is either unhelpful or only partially helpful, the PDA says. Some pharmacists (22 per cent) have claimed that they will either retire from practice on 1 October 2009 or will seek not to work until they can assess the impact of the regulations.

However, the Royal Pharmaceutical Society said that in its own survey 86.6 per cent of respondents said they liked the format of the toolkit, with two thirds reporting that they were “very satisfied” or “satisfied” with it.

The PDA wants the regulations to be postponed and hopes that the results from its survey will raise the profile of the issue. It also wants the RP toolkit to be rewritten and for pharmacists to undertake any necessary training.

An online petition asking pharmacists to support this initiative was established by locum pharmacist and PDA Union committee member Graeme Stafford on 16 July 2009. The PDA plans to lobby Parliament and various pharmacy organisations to gather support for postponement.

The Society commented: “The Society has not received a formal request from the PDA to join their campaign. Council would need to consider the reasons put forward for delaying the implementation of the responsible pharmacist regulations before making a decision to join any such campaign.”

Responsible pharmacist: Pharmacists’ Defence Association view

Although the PDA “cautiously” supports the RP proposals, it believes several concerns it has raised previously have not been adequately addressed and that “very serious problems remain” in the proposals.

For example, the PDA points out that the few minutes before a pharmacy opens in which responsible pharmacists are required to read and digest a pharmacy’s SOPs before they sign on are not long enough, which could result in RPs signing on without having agreed to the SOPs.

“Following on from the Elizabeth Lee case (PJ, 11 April 2009, p401), pharmacists, quite rightly, are not prepared to take any unnecessary risks when it comes to personal exposure and with the new RP regulations introducing several new professional offences and also new criminal sanctions it is unsurprising that pharmacists will be very wary,” said PDA chairman Mark Koziol.

In addition, the PDA highlights the problem that pharmacists taking a “rest break” will still have to remain signed on (and therefore be contactable or have an alternative pharmacist available) under the RP regulations, so that the pharmacy can still be operational — but the legally defined rest break (of a complete mental and physical break) can only occur when a pharmacist signs off.

This could mean “pharmacies have to close altogether because RPs sign off to take rest breaks”, the PDA says.

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal URI: 10971658

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