Rebalancing Medicines Legislation and Pharmacy Regulation Programme’s Partners Forum

A meeting of the Rebalancing Medicines Legislation and Pharmacy Regulation Programme’s Partners Forum was finally held on Thursday 22 February 2018. The PDA (Pharmacists’ Defence Association) had 3 representatives present out of a total attendance of 55 people, including the Chair and other representatives of the Department of Health and Social Care.

Thu 22nd February 2018 The PDA

It had been 969 days since the previous meeting and the Board decided not to share presentation slides or even the list of attendees in advance, so attendees had to rely on a single sheet six-item agenda to know what to expect, though on the day it was apparent some people had been provided with printed copies of the slides.  It was also noted that the APTUK are listed by the board as a professional body.

At the start of the meeting the PDA reiterated our request that we should be included on the board.  The board’s scope covers all four UK nations and so does the PDA, we talk exclusively for pharmacists and have 27,000 members.  Most importantly the PDA, like the NPA who we believe should also be on the board, deal with the issues being tackled by the board on a daily basis. We have more direct experience of the reality and practicalities of what is being discussed than others who are on the board.   However, the Chair of the Board, Ken Jarrold said he had nothing to add to our earlier exchange of correspondence in which he had declined to give the PDA members a voice on the board.

The agenda had two main sessions.  Firstly, there were update presentations on Section 60 legislative orders [Dispensing errors (registered pharmacies) order 2018; draft dispensing errors (Hospitals etc); Responsible Pharmacists/Superintendent Pharmacist], which the Chair said reflected longstanding discussions.  The board intend to put these out for a public consultation.  There was a 22-minute Q and A session about these.

The PDA disagreed that the board had decriminalised errors even though they had inserted defences. The Chairman expressed his disappointment with the PDA in that we did not appreciate what they had achieved. However, we reiterated that in publicly available comment from the legal profession and in legal advice PDA had sought independently, there is agreement that it was still a criminal offence to commit an error. Therefore the PDA still holds the position that the Board has not delivered decriminalisation as was expected when the board was established.

Secondly, the board went to great lengths to emphasise that there were no proposals or agreed positions on changes to supervision.  A 27-minute discussion included a number of contributions that asked the board to think strategically and take sufficient time to do things in the best way.

Attendees advised that the board need to understand the big picture for the future of pharmacy and the role of pharmacists before being able to determine the role of those who work with them such as Pharmacy Technicians.  This included positive references to the PDA’s Road Map strategy and the Scottish Government’s Achieving Excellence in Pharmaceutical Care strategy.

The PDA made the point that after the leak of minutes last year, the board had lost credibility and trust needed to be earned again from the pharmacy profession.  The Chair of the Board said they should be judged by what they do.  The PDA are certainly watching what the board do and say.  Mr Jarrold also stated that nobody wants to reduce safeguards or reduce the distance between patient and pharmacist. We will be holding the board to that statement.

The PDA continue to want to influence the work of the board so that the outcomes are the best they can be for patients, pharmacists, taxpayers and others.  We believe this would be best done with the PDA as a member of the board. In the meantime, we will use the Partner Forum to exert some influence. We requested that the papers for discussion should be released before future meetings to optimise contributions from attendees.

The official record of the meeting will be published on the Rebalancing Board website and in answer to a final question from the PDA, the DoHSC official said the next meeting of the Partners Forum will be “sooner rather than later”. Clearly the current frequency of Partner Forum meetings, which equates to 3 short meetings per decade is unacceptable.

The Pharmacists' Defence Association is a company limited by guarantee. Registered in England; Company No 4746656.

The Pharmacists' Defence Association is an appointed representative in respect of insurance mediation activities only of
The Pharmacy Insurance Agency Limited which is registered in England and Wales under company number 2591975
and is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (Register No 307063)

The PDA Union is recognised by the Certification Officer as an independent trade union.

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