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Timetable for decriminalisation of dispensing errors has slipped

The timetable to implement legislative changes designed to decriminalise dispensing errors has slipped, according to Ken Jarrold, chairman of the programme board for rebalancing medicines legislation and pharmacy regulation. However, he is still hopeful that the legislation will be passed “in the life of this Parliament”.


Ken Jarrold hopes that legislative changes to decriminalise dispensing errors will be passed in the life of this Parliament

Speaking at a joint conference of the UK Clinical Pharmacy Association and the Guild of Healthcare Pharmacists in Manchester on 5 April 2014, Mr Jarrold explained that a consultation on proposals about the decriminalisation of dispensing errors will form phase 1 of the plan to implement changes in legislation.

Under the proposals, pharmacists and pharmacy technicians would be exempt from the criminal offence for dispensing errors provided certain conditions are met. These conditions include that:

  • The medicine was sold or supplied by a registered pharmacist or registered pharmacy technician;
  • The sale or supply was in pursuance of a prescription; and
  • The registered pharmacist or registered pharmacy technician was acting in the course of their profession. 

Mr Jarrold said that the project has been delayed because of discussions with the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (PJ 2014;292:356) and scrutiny by the Office of the Parliamentary Counsel, a group of government lawyers who specialise in drafting legislation.

He said: “[Passing the legislation in the current Parliamentary term] is going to be challenging given that our timetable has slipped a bit, but we have not given up.”

Phase 2 of the project will deal with concerns surrounding supervision. “It is very much an issue of how people feel about themselves in their roles, and we are going to have to deal with that with considerable sensitivity,” Mr Jarrold said.

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal DOI: 10.1211/PJ.2014.11137257

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