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The Council of the Pharmaceutical Society NI (PSNI) to remove the two-year requirement as a registered pharmacist to have an Independent Prescriber (IP) annotation on the pharmacy register in Northern Ireland.

It has further endorsed that the two-year requirement for entry onto stand-alone pharmacist independent prescribing courses be removed and replaced with an assessment before admission, by course providers, based upon guidance provided by the regulator.

In conjunction with the Department of Health, the PSNI will now work towards a further public consultation on the necessary legislative changes.

Dr Jim Livingstone, president of the PSNI, said: “The Department of Health has set a clear direction which will see pharmacist independent prescribers becoming increasingly important in the delivery of pharmacy services in Northern Ireland. Our role is to protect the public, but we are clear that our regulatory objective should not be an unnecessary barrier to the development of the profession and enhanced services being provided to the public.”

The council’s recent public consultation outlined proposals on changes to the entry requirements for standalone independent prescribing courses and annotation as an IP on the register. The proposals sought to strike a right balance between protecting the public, whilst not placing disproportionate regulatory barriers in the way of developing services.

“I am pleased that our proposals were broadly supported,” Dr Livingstone said, adding: “Removing the two-year period before being annotated on the Register is necessary to deliver wider reforms to pharmacy education. We will continue to work with the Department of Health, to move towards a public consultation on the necessary legislative changes.

“We acknowledge the feedback received, that some further clarification and guidance is required in certain areas, and we have committed to working with our colleagues in the GPhC to develop guidance for course providers and others.

“We are also committed to exploring what additional support might be needed for independent prescribers in relation to post-registration education and professional development. We will take this work on as part of our partnership with the GPhC on the UK wide post-registration assurance of practise group. Ensuring that there is appropriate engagement and involvement with local stakeholders.

“We had several excellent responses to this consultation, which raised important issues. A number of these issues related to the wider education reform agenda and are outside the immediate responsibility of the Regulator. We have, however, committed to presenting our consultation report to the Education Reform Implementation Group, which is progressing these wider reforms in Northern Ireland.”

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