New legislative orders commenced on 1 December 2022 give the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) and Pharmaceutical Society of Northern Ireland (PSNI) various powers, including removing the threat of criminal sanctions for inadvertent preparation and dispensing errors for pharmacy staff working in hospitals and similar settings. These defences came into force in 2018 for registered pharmacies. The regulators now also have the power to outline in rules the essential roles and responsibilities of Responsible Pharmacists and to set professional standards for Responsible Pharmacists, Superintendent Pharmacists and Chief Pharmacists.
Update August 2023
While we are in the process of engaging and consulting on these changes to legislation, it is important to note that rules which were in force before December 2022 regarding the role of the Responsible Pharmacist (RP), still apply.
The 2008 Responsible Pharmacist Regulations will continue to be in place until the first rules made by the GPhC under section 72A of the 1968 Act come into force. This also applies to sections 72A(3) to (5) and 84(A1) of the 1968 Act. This applies in all four countries.
What is happening now?
From January to July 2023 we have held engagement events with external stakeholders, and this is now drawing to a close. Work on analysing the feedback we have received has started, and we will be using this information to inform our consultation proposals.
We will then undertake full public consultations on the standards for Chief Pharmacists, Superintendent Pharmacists and Responsible Pharmacists and on the rules for Responsible Pharmacists. This is to make sure that the standards reflect the views and needs of patients and the public, health professionals, the NHS and the wider health sector. We are committed to listening carefully to all views expressed and considering what approaches would best support safe and effective pharmacy provision and strengthen pharmacy governance.
We are aiming to consult on standards for Chief Pharmacists in Autumn 2023. The timing of our consultation on the rules for Responsible Pharmacists and the standards for Responsible Pharmacists, and Superintendent Pharmacists, is partly dependent on the outcome of the Department for Health and Social Care’s (DHSC) forthcoming consultation on supervision. Once we are clear on any changes to the legislation on supervision, we will then finalise our proposals and consultation on the relevant rules and standards.
Our consultations on standards and rules will be open for a minimum of twelve weeks.
After the consultation
After the consultation we will be analysing the results and feedback in order to produce a report, before undertaking further engagement with the pharmacy sector and Parliamentarians. After this we will seek sign off from the Privy Council and Secretary of State.
Find out more
You can read the published orders here: