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New proposals on pharmacy dispensing errors and standards

The proposals on pharmacy dispensing errors and standards would give a new defence against criminal prosecution for pharmacy professionals if they make an inadvertent dispensing error. The four Departments of Health have launched a consultation into the proposals. It will run until 14 May 2015. We are also consulting on changes to the regulation of pharmacy premises. The views of all pharmacy professionals, patients, the public and stakeholders are critically important – please get involved and give your views.

These changes will redress ‘imbalances’ between legislation and regulation. They will also bring pharmacists and pharmacy technicians, who inadvertently make dispensing errors, more in line with the handling of errors made by other healthcare professionals.

By removing the fear of criminal prosecution, pharmacists, pharmacy technicians and pharmacy teams will be encouraged to report more dispensing errors, so the NHS can learn from when things go wrong, and stop them happening again. In the unlikely event that a pharmacy professional deliberately sets out to harm patients, they would continue to face the full force of criminal law.

These changes are crucial to driving high quality patient care and improving patient safety, developing pharmacy practice and enabling innovation.

The proposals are UK-wide and have been developed by a multi-disciplinary Board with representatives from the 4 countries of the UK.

Ken Jarrold CBE, chair of the Rebalancing Medicines Legislation and Pharmacy Regulation Programme Board, said:

I am extremely pleased to see the launch of the consultation and I am very grateful to Board for all their hard work in getting to this stage. I know that these proposals are of immense importance and interest to pharmacy professionals and users, and I urge you to give them serious consideration and to let us know your views.

Full details of the consultation as well as engagement activities for professionals, patients and members of the public are available on the consultation page.