The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) has opened a consultation on proposals to update legislation around the supervision of activities by a pharmacist in a pharmacy.

The consultation sets out proposals to amend the Medicines Act 1968 and The Human Medicines Regulations 2012, which would allow:

pharmacists to authorise (not directly supervise) pharmacy technicians to carry out, or supervise others carrying out, the preparation, assembly, dispensing, sale and supply of medicines;
pharmacists to authorise any member of the pharmacy team to hand out checked and bagged prescriptions in the absence of a pharmacist; and
pharmacy technicians to take primary responsibility for the preparation, assembly and dispensing of medicinal products in hospital aseptic facilities.

The consultation also sets out in Annex B a helpful analysis of the current interpretation of supervision, based on both case law and 2005 guidance from the RPSGB, which was then both the regulator and professional body for pharmacists.

Supervision has become an increasingly critical issue in community pharmacy as the sector’s role and workload have increased and Community Pharmacy England has supported reforms that would make better use of skill mix across the whole pharmacy team.

Earlier this year, the Pharmacy Supervision Practice Group – which included representatives from across the community pharmacy sector – published a report that supported reframing legislation, regulation and professional standards and guidance around supervision in community pharmacy. The report has informed this consultation.

The Group’s report will also inform the General Pharmaceutical Council’s (GPhC’s) consideration of the rules and/or standards for responsible pharmacists and standards for superintendent pharmacists that will follow this consultation.

These proposals, if implemented, will bring significant changes to pharmacist supervision of the dispensing process, and we encourage all pharmacy owners to read and reflect on them. Community Pharmacy England, which includes representatives of the CCA and NPA and those with AIM membership, will consider these proposals and submit a full response in due course, in discussion with LPCs.

DHSC’s consultation will run until 11.59pm on 29th February 2024.

Further information, including an impact assessment of the proposals and how to respond to the consultation, can be found on the GOV.UK website.

Gordon Hockey, Director of Legal at Community Pharmacy England, said:

“We welcome this public consultation following the sector’s report in the summer seeking changes to supervision in community pharmacy. As the clinical skills of community pharmacists are put to greater use through services such as Pharmacy First, it is important to ensure that pharmacies can make best use of skill mix across the whole team. We will consider the proposals and respond to the consultation.”

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