Supervision: part 2

In her second article on supervision, Tess Fenn discusses potential moves that could enable transformational change of pharmacy practice and greater use of community pharmacy

Last year, the rebalancing programme reviewed and consulted on new proposals on dispensing errors. It looked at creating a legal defence from criminal prosecution for pharmacy staff who make an inadvertent dispensing error. The programme board is now starting to look at supervision. This work is in progress and has a way to go yet. Currently, the assembly, sale and supply of medicines are of course carried out under the supervision of a pharmacist. APTUK has issued statements that give our position on possible relaxations and flexibility on the supervision of pharmacy technician professionals, notably: ‘‘We believe that changes to supervision can be an enabler to empower safe and effective patient-centred pharmacy services, wherever they are delivered.”

We believe that there are certain activities that can safely be carried out, as delegated by the responsible pharmacist, in their absence. This could be when they are undertaking a medicines use review with a patient in their own home, for instance. A straightforward example of delegation in this scenario could be the supply of a prescription by a pharmacy technician to a patient, or their representative, who has come back to collect their medicines, which have been clinically checked by the pharmacist as appropriate for their use, final accuracy checked and bagged up ready for collection.

APTUK also believes that to support this, personal and organisational risk management must be in place and rigorously applied. By this we mean applying a four-layer regulation model, where there are safe systems of work in place, determined by the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC), the pharmacy owner/ employer, the superintendent and the responsible pharmacist. Last but not least, it is the individual pharmacy technician who must demonstrate competence and a thorough understanding and ability to recognise the limits of their competence and when to refer to a pharmacist. Risk-based safe systems would be in place at every level to ensure that the supply of medicines to patients is safe and effective.

APTUK believes that given the proper provision, within safe systems and processes, changes to supervision can empower both the pharmacist and the pharmacy technician to perform their roles in the best interests of the patient. This can provide patients with access to the expert advice and guidance they need to support them in taking their medicines – it’s medicines optimisation in practice.

I am in no doubt that the discussions about this will continue. It would therefore be useful for you to start talking about this with your colleagues, your pharmacist and us so that you can start to form your own personal opinion in readiness for any future consultations.

We believe that changes to supervision can be an enabler to empower safe and effective patient-centred pharmacy services

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