The Pharmacists’ Defence Association is to hold an “emergency meeting” to discuss supervision at the Pharmacy Show at Birmingham’s NEC on Sunday October 8th and repeated on Monday October 9th. It comes in the wake of leaked documents purporting to show Government plans to make radical changes to supervision legislation.

The PDA says it has been fighting the threat of remote supervision since 2006. “The plan to operate a pharmacy in the absence of a pharmacist is just not safe for patients, but like a weed in the garden, every time it’s cut back it returns. The Government has tried many times in the past to change the current arrangements but has never managed to make progress due to the vigorous resistance that it has faced,” claims the organisation.

PDA chairman Mark Koziol criticised the Department of Health’s programme board that is looking at rebalancing pharmacy legislation and professional regulation, including decriminalising dispensing errors as well as supervision.

“Detailed discussions are kept away from the wider profession ... We know what the Government and the pharmacy technicians want to achieve, but we are less clear about what our pharmacy representatives are agreeing to and what their motivations are – this concerns us enormously. 

“A wider stakeholder group is supposed to help inform [its] work. The PDA is a member of this wider group but no stakeholder group meeting has been held for several years. There has been a shocking and unacceptable lack of engagement and transparency shown by this committee, we are now being led to believe that even the health secretary did not know what they were discussing.”

Mr Koziol said the rebalancing board should be looking at the supervision arrangements to make pharmacists more accessible to the public in a community pharmacy and not less so. “There is no doubt that the time to ’stop remote supervision’ finally has arrived,” he said.

Four members of the rebalancing board will be taking part in a panel discussion at the Pharmacy Show on Sunday (12:45-13:45). They are Andrew Evans, chief pharmaceutical officer for Wales; Nigel Clarke, chairman of the General Pharmaceutical Council; Tess Fenn, president, Association of Pharmacy Technicians; and Ash Soni, president, Royal Pharmaceutical Society.

The Department of Health has now committed to hold a public consultation on pharmacy supervision before finalising its proposals.

Like a weed in the garden, every time it’s cut back it returns

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