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Supervision plans may push up insurance

Government plans to allow community pharmacies to operate without a pharmacist on the premises will inevitably affect liability, insurance providers warned this week.

The Chemists’ Defence Association said it was essential that any moves towards expanding the pharmacists’ professional role must not compromise patient safety.

CDA chief executive John D’Arcy said: “It is essential that any changes are made in a cautious and measured way to ensure that the need to expand pharmacists’ roles is balanced against any compromise to patient safety.

“It is also essential that there is no weakening of pharmacy’s key value proposition — ready and easy access to a pharmacist.”

He accepted that role changes inevitably introduce a new risk profile which would have to be addressed by risk management strategies including standard operating procedures.

The Pharmacists’ Defence Association, which has 10,000 members, also says that the profession would face increased liability if remote supervision, outlined in the current Health Bill, becomes law.

It is currently surveying its members on the changes, which will be debated at its annual conference at the end of February.

PDA chairman Mark Koziol said the results so far revealed concern that some employers may use remote supervision to cut costs rather than to develop the profession.

“Even though standard operating procedures are already in place my association deals daily with incidents which are dispensing errors or near misses,” he said.

The suggestion that standard operating procedures will protect patients in the absence of a pharmacist is a “fallacious argument”, Mr Koziol added.

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal URI: 10020825

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