GPhC, PSNI empowered to define roles of responsible, superintendent and chief pharmacists


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New legislative orders approved by the Privy Council will give the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) and Pharmaceutical Society of Northern Ireland (PSNI) powers to set professional standards for Responsible Pharmacists, Superintendent Pharmacists and Chief Pharmacists.

The Pharmacy (Preparation and Dispensing Errors – Hospital (and Other Pharmacy Services) Order 2022 and the Pharmacy (Responsible Pharmacists, Superintendent Pharmacists etc.) Order 2022 have been published and are expected to come into force in December 2022.

Trevor Patterson, Chief Executive of the Pharmaceutical Society NI said: “We have been working with our colleagues in the GPhC and Government for some time on these two pieces of important legislation and we are delighted they have now reached the statute books.

“Both Orders enable and enhance the powers we, and the GPhC, have to define the roles and responsibilities of Responsible, Superintendent and Chief Pharmacists, respectively. They also create protections against criminal prosecution for hospital pharmacists where an inadvertent error is made either in dispensing or assembly, in certain defined circumstances, similar to the protections available to colleagues working in community/registered pharmacy settings. Provisions that allow the appointment of a Deputy Registrar for our organization will also be introduced.

“The Pharmacy (Responsible Pharmacists, Superintendent Pharmacists etc.) Order 2022 will transfer responsibility from ministers to regulators to set standards for Superintendent and Responsible Pharmacists, creating greater flexibility in a rapidly evolving health service where patient safety is at the forefront.

“Throughout its development, we have fully supported the aims of the Hospital (and Other Pharmacy Services) Order 2022, which will be supportive to registrants and further encourage an open and candid working culture, one in which mistakes are recognised and rectified enhancing patient safety at all levels and where a learning culture can be embedded in everyday practice.

“Once these powers have commenced, on 1 December 2022, we will work with our partners in the GPhC, the Northern Ireland pharmacy community and with other stakeholders to develop the appropriate Professional Standards and Guidance to underpin good pharmacy practice, thus supporting and enhancing modern and safe patient care.”

Duncan Rudkin, Chief Executive of the GPhC, said: “These orders will enable the GPhC and PSNI to take forward important work to strengthen pharmacy governance. New standards will complement our existing standards for all pharmacy professionals to which these groups are already committed.

“We also welcome the changes the Pharmacy (Preparation and Dispensing Errors – Hospital and Other Pharmacy Services) Order 2022 will make to the Medicines Act. These changes will enable pharmacy professionals working in settings including hospitals and prisons to have protection from prosecution in the event of a dispensing or assembly error, provided certain preconditions are satisfied. Previously this protection from prosecution was only available to pharmacy professionals working at a registered pharmacy.

“We strongly support extending this protection from prosecution to pharmacy professionals working in other settings, as we believe this promotes an open and learning culture. This will increase the opportunities for pharmacy teams to learn from dispensing errors and reduce the possibility of them happening again, which is vital for patient safety.”

“We are committed to listening carefully to all views expressed and considering what approach would best support safe and effective pharmacy care.

GPhC will move onto drafting the rules and professional standards and will hold full public consultations 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.


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