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PDA calls on DHSC to confirm plans for BREXIT

The PDA has continuously said that any changes to regulations, procedures or practice need to be properly considered, developed, agreed and communicated in advance of implementation. As the countdown to BREXIT approaches 100 days, the PDA is calling on the government to be absolutely transparent with their plans for pharmacy and clarify exactly what they intend to do.

Thu 13th December 2018 The PDA

Mark Koziol, Chair of the PDA said: “Whatever people may think about BREXIT itself, the fact is patients are still entitled to expect safe and appropriate supply of the medicines which they and their families rely upon to keep well. 

If there are problems with supply, it will not be politicians that face angry patients in pharmacies, it will be hardworking pharmacists trying to provide high quality patient care and also having to explain why any problems in supply have occurred.

Our experience also shows us that if something goes wrong in the pharmacy, for example due to medicines shortages, it is almost guaranteed it will be the individual pharmacist who is blamed. Neither the government nor the contractor will be facing a Fitness to Practice panel, employment disciplinary or potential criminal proceedings.”

This week the Secretary of State for Health & Social Care, Matt Hancock has indicated that a proposed “serious shortage protocol” would amend the Human Medicines Regulations 2012 to enable pharmacists to dispense an alternative medicine in accordance with the protocol, rather than the prescription, and without having to contact a GP.

What does the DH’s “serious shortage protocol” entail?

The DH’s proposed “serious shortage protocol” could be issued by ministers in instances of serious national shortages and would enable community pharmacists and other dispensers to dispense in accordance with the protocol – rather than the prescription – without contacting a GP.

In these instances, pharmacists would be allowed to dispense an alternative medicine in a limited number of circumstances and when it is appropriate to be managed at a pharmacy level.

The pharmacist would still use their professional judgement to decide on what medicine to dispense.

The protocol would be developed with clinicians and would clearly indicate what alternative can be dispensed and to which patients it applies. The protocol covers four possibilities:

  • dispensing a reduced quantity
  • dispensing an alternative dosage form
  • dispensing a therapeutic equivalent
  • dispensing a generic equivalent

Source: The Department of Health and Social Care, December 7

Mark Koziol commented on this proposal: The Rebalancing Medicines Legislation and Pharmacy Regulation Programme Board has made slow and incomplete progress on decriminalising inadvertent dispensing errors, yet this proposal expects a rushed discussion and implementation at an infinitely faster pace to make a significant change because of BREXIT deadlines. We do not want to see pharmacists and their careers left vulnerable by a rushed job.

If these changes happen, there must be clear guidance provided to responsible pharmacists. Regulators and employers will need to fall in line with any new arrangements. Any changes need to be appropriately communicated in good time.”   

Meanwhile, Francis O’Grady, General Secretary of Britain’s Trades Union Congress has written to all members of the Westminster parliament about the threats to your rights at work from the BREXIT deal currently being promoted by the government. In her letter Ms O’Grady explains why the current proposed deal is bad for working people, for jobs and our employment rights.

At the PDA, we use rights under UK law and from EU regulations everyday to help our members at work and we certainly agree that not only should existing rights be protected, but any new rights won by workers in the EU should be at least matched here in the UK.

The content of the TUC letter follows:

Dear Member of Parliament,

Ever since the referendum, trade unions have said that leaving the EU must not put everyday protections at risk.

These are not abstract regulations, but rights that really matter to working people.

Like paid holidays, rights for part-time workers, time off for working mums and dads, equal pay for women and limits on working hours.

Theresa May promised to protect these rights after Brexit, and she’s insisted that her deal would protect and enhance rights at work.

But I want to be clear that it doesn’t even come close.

This deal will threaten UK workers’ rights – both during the transition period and afterwards.

Under the proposals, new EU rights that come into force after the transition won’t apply to UK workers.

And after the transition, there is nothing to stop UK workers’ rights falling far behind the rest of Europe.

This deal even means that a future government could rip up the rights we have now.

The only employment rights commitments covering our future relationship with the EU are in the non-binding draft Political Declaration.

In other words, they aren’t worth the paper they’re written on.

This is a bad deal for working people: bad for jobs and bad for rights.

Trade unions across Europe have long worked together to win a level playing field on rights at work. We won’t accept a deal that leaves UK workers worse off.

That is why trade unions can’t support it – and we don’t think you should either.

We need a deal that protects jobs and rights. And one way or another, the people must have a final say.

Frances O’Grady

General Secretary
Trades Union Congress


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