New legislative orders commenced on 1 December give the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) and Pharmaceutical Society of Northern Ireland (PSNI) powers 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.
The new legislation also removes the threat of criminal sanctions for inadvertent dispensing errors in hospitals and other pharmacy settings such as prisons. The threat of criminal sanctions was removed for registered pharmacies in 2018. Extending the defences to pharmacy professionals working in hospitals and other specified pharmacy services ensures parity across the profession. This should improve patient safety by encouraging reporting of dispensing error and increasing learning opportunities.
What happens next?
We are now beginning an extensive programme of engagement and consultation on these changes.
From mid-January 2023 we will be engaging extensively with the pharmacy and health sector, and patients and the public, to discuss the requirements and expectations around the roles of Chief Pharmacists, Responsible Pharmacists and Superintendent Pharmacists. Further information about how to get involved will be shared as this programme of work gets under way.
Following the initial period of engagement, we will hold a full public consultation to make sure that the rules and 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.
We will be publishing FAQs in the coming weeks.
Find out more
You can read the published orders here: