Training and responsibilities of pharmacy staff providing a delivery service

23 October 2023

Following recent contact with a coroner, we wanted to highlight the responsibilities of pharmacy owners in training and supporting delivery staff to provide a safe and effective service

We know that pharmacies and their teams are delivering safe and effective care to people every day. And this includes delivering medicines to people in their own homes, a care home or a nursing home.

There can also be incidents or events that generate learning for pharmacy teams and part of our regulatory work includes monitoring and responding to queries from coroners in England and Wales, including Prevention of Future Death Reports. This enables us to identify any themes or issues relevant to pharmacy and to support continuous learning more widely.

In a recent report, a coroner sought clarity from us on the roles and responsibilities of members of the pharmacy team involved in providing a delivery service, particularly where a patient was found to have fallen in their home.

In this article, we recap on the relevant parts of our standards for registered pharmacies, supporting guidance and requirements for the training of unregistered staff.

Meeting the standards

One of the core requirements in our standards is for pharmacy owners to ensure that risks associated with the services they provide are identified and managed. Pharmacy owners are also responsible for making sure our guidance for registered pharmacies providing pharmacy services at a distance (including on the internet) [PDF 581KB] is followed.

Pharmacy owners are responsible for making sure that the whole pharmacy team – both registered pharmacy professionals and all unregistered staff – provide safe and effective care and pharmacy services.

Staff members, and anyone involved in providing pharmacy services, must be competent and empowered to safeguard the health, safety and wellbeing of patients and the public in all that they do.

Assessing needs and providing training

Pharmacy owners are accountable for making sure their unregistered staff meet our requirements for training.

While we don’t regulate delivery drivers directly, we have published guidance to ensure a safe and effective pharmacy team [PDF 789 KB] and we set requirements for the training of unregistered staff, including delivery drivers.

As the scope of work of pharmacy support staff is hugely diverse, we specify a set of learning outcomes which all support staff must achieve. These include outcomes relating to:

  • acting to maintain the interests of individuals and groups, making patients and their safety their first concern 
  • listening to and communicating effectively with users of pharmacy services
  • recognising and raising concerns about safeguarding people, particularly children and vulnerable adults
  • referring issues or individuals to another member of the pharmacy team, other health and social care staff, organisations and services as appropriate.

Showing how your service is safe and effective

When we go out to inspect pharmacies, our inspectors will look at the systems and processes for secure delivery to people receiving care, for example, how medicines are transported and who provides the service. This includes looking at:

  • standard operating procedures (SOPs) and arrangements for indemnity insurance 
  • how pharmacy owners are assessing and managing risks, for example, risks associated with the suitability and timescale of the method of delivery, or with managing unexpected interruptions in delivery

Inspectors will check the training provided to delivery drivers and the pharmacy team, and will usually ask about delivery arrangements and service level agreements with transportation providers.

Pharmacy owners should make sure there are SOPs in place to support delivery drivers and the wider team to know what to do and who to contact if they find that a patient has had a fall or is at risk in other ways, and to ensure children and vulnerable adults are safeguarded.

We encourage all pharmacy owners and teams to reflect on the issues highlighted in this article and how they can continue to meet our standards in this context.

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