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PDA urges rebalancing board to engage with it on supervision plans

By Neil Trainis

PUBLISHED: October 12, 2017 | UPDATED: October 12, 2017

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The Pharmacists’ Defence Association has urged the rebalancing medicines legislation and pharmacy regulation programme board to engage with it over its controversial plans on supervision.

As proposals allowing technicians to oversee the supply of medicines continues to be scrutinised and criticised by large parts of the pharmacy industry, battle lines are becoming increasingly visible.

The PDA, angered at what it perceives as the Board’s lack of transparency and willingness to engage, recently described it as “a bunker” despite the Board’s promise to consult with pharmacy stakeholders and the public.

The Board’s chair Ken Jarrold also denied that the PDA was being deliberately marginalised and promised it would get the opportunity to contribute to the consultation. The next Board meeting is on October 23.

Those assurances however have done little to allay the concerns of the PDA who said it, along with the National Pharmacy Association, had written to Jarrold in an attempt to resolve what it described as “this sensitive situation.”

“At our sessions held on each day of the Pharmacy Show we called for intelligent debate from across the profession to agree a clear vision for supervision in community pharmacy and we continue to encourage the profession to engage in a constructive debate,” the PDA said.

“We start from the belief that a pharmacy is safer with the presence of a pharmacist and that the rules on supervision need to be changed in a way that makes the pharmacist more accessible to the public in a community pharmacy setting, not less so.

“We welcome the offers of collaborative working from various organisations during the sessions and have highlighted the importance of the role of pharmacy technicians and the need to include them in this debate.”

The plans, pushed forward by a group chaired by England’s chief pharmaceutical officer Keith Ridge and his Scottish counterpart Rose Marie Parr, were revealed in leaked documents, fuelling speculation that the Board was keen on the plans. That was refuted by pharmacy minister Steve Brine during the Pharmacy Business Awards.

The PDA added: “On this specific issue we are responding to the legitimate anxieties and concerns of our members following the leaked publication of discussions from the rebalancing board. Prior to media coverage of those discussions, we were unaware of the extent to which these ideas were being developed.

“We would welcome further engagement from Ken Jarrold, so that the whole pharmacy sector is involved in shaping the role of the profession rather than a select few and we have already written to him in a joint letter with the NPA who have publicly stated they share our concerns and applaud the efforts we are making to resolve this sensitive situation.

“This is not about defending the status quo but ensuring that those best placed to develop the professional role and who also understand how a new approach to supervision would best benefit patient care, practicing pharmacists at the coalface, are engaged in the debate.”