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Health Minister Steve Brine has said that the parliament has been unable to consider the proposed legislation on dispensing errors as the government’s current focus is on Brexit.

The minister’s statement came as a reply to a letter sent by Sir Kevin Barron, the chair of the All-Party Pharmacy Group, raising concerns about the delay to the introduction of the legislation.

“The department is consequently not in a position to lay the draft Order before the drafting amendments have been considered and agreed,” Brine said in the letter.

The minister also pointed to a ‘further complication’ that some provisions included in the dispensing error legislation draft Order are linked to provisions in the organisational governance draft order. So, it is not possible to progress one without the other.

“I understand your frustration at this being delayed, especially considering how long it took to introduce the initial defences. Departmental officials have kept all interested parties informed of the progress, and held a Partners’ Forum on 6 February to address and answer some of the concerns raised by respondents to the consultation, to discuss the changes agreed by the Board, and explain the reasons behind the delay,” he wrote.

The legislation will extend the already existing defences for community pharmacists against prosecution for dispensing errors. The government opened the draft legislation for a consultation in 2018 that received 632 responses.