The Pharmacists’ Defence Association (PDA) has raised concerns over “certain elements” of the Pharmaceutical Society of Northern Ireland (PSNI)’s consultation on pharmacy staffing levels.

PSNI recently consulted on its draft guidance for pharmacy staffing levels which sets out to explain what pharmacy owners and superintendents must do to ensure that each pharmacy has enough skilled and qualified staff. This includes having an appropriate skill mix, to provide safe and effective pharmacy services which comply with the standards.

PDA said that the role of the ‘responsible pharmacist’ has not been “fully acknowledged” and that more clarification is needed.

The association has made a few recommendations to PSNI that includes: the guidance must explicitly recognize the statutory role of the responsible pharmacist and their authority in securing the safe operations within the pharmacy.

“The guidance should specify that pharmacy owners and superintendents must ensure that they do not set incentives or targets which may compromise the professional judgement of staff.”

It also recommended that unregistered staff (including unregistered managers) are accountable firstly to the responsible pharmacist for any activity involving the clinical care of patients (for example unregistered managers must not interfere in diary bookings for vaccinations).

Bharat Nathwani, PDA policy officer, said: “Through our annual Safer Pharmacies Charter Survey, we know that safe staffing levels is a significant concern for members. We welcome the recognition of the issue and the approach from the PSNI, which sets out to ensure that there is a defined benchmark as to how pharmacy owners and superintendents should make sure that pharmacies are appropriately staffed to deliver safe and effective care to patients.

“Our recommendations are based on our members’ experience as frontline pharmacists, and we believe that they would further enhance and strengthen the guidance proposed. The PDA would also welcome a similar approach to improve the working conditions of members in England, Scotland and Wales.”


If you want to share your stories and/or experiences with us, please send an email to [email protected]