COVID-19 Operational Standards for Pharmacies

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the PSI has developed new COVID-19 Operational Standards to apply across all pharmacies. 

What are the Operational Standards?What do the Operational Standards cover?

The Standards aim to provide concise, outcomes focused statements to guide those people involved in the governance and leadership of pharmacies (i.e. owners, superintendent pharmacists and supervising pharmacists) in providing safe, patient centred care and in delivering quality pharmacy services during this challenging period.

The Standards inform patients and the wider public as to what they can expect from their pharmacies. They also provide assurance that pharmacies are a safe and supportive healthcare environment despite the ongoing risks arising from COVID-19.

What do the Operational Standards cover?

The Standards cover the following four domains with Quality and Safety being the overarching principles:

  1. Good governance
  2. The pharmacy team
  3. The pharmacy setting
  4. The pharmacy services

How were the Operational Standards developed?

We developed the Standards through the formation of a safety collaborative with practicing pharmacists, the Irish Pharmacy Union (IPU), the Health Service Executive (HSE) and the Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC). The Standards reflect the national public health advice in place to manage the COVID-19 outbreak and are informed by approaches adopted internationally.

How will the Standards be implemented?

As the Standards are an evolution in how the PSI regulates the pharmacy sector, a learning and engagement approach to implementation will be adopted through an initial ‘use and learn’ period. This flexible period will allow pharmacy owners, superintendent and supervising pharmacists to have time to reflect upon their practice and adapt your practice where needed. This period will also allow people in key leadership positions in pharmacies to provide feedback to the PSI on the use and relevance of the Standards.

Overview report on the COVID-19 Operational Standards

Part of the ‘use and learn’ approach involved visiting a small sample of pharmacies to assess how the Standards were working in practice and see how the pharmacies in the sample were coping with the pressure of the pandemic. This overview report sets out some important observations and findings from these initial assessments, including:

  • how we developed the COVID-19 Operational Standards for Pharmacies with the assistance of a Safety Collaborative Group,
  • what we learned during our exploratory visits to pharmacies during the initial ‘use and learn’ period, and
  • preliminary observations and findings under each of the five standards.

The report also highlights areas of good practice as well as areas giving rise to significant concern.

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We acknowledge and welcome the extraordinary contribution made by pharmacists to maintain the continuity of pharmacy services in the face of unprecedented challenges in 2020 and 2021. We are aware that many pharmacies have already put measures and good practice arrangements in place that will address the majority of the areas covered by these Operational Standards. In circumstances where measures had to be put in place at short notice, the Standards will help ensure pharmacies are consistent in their approaches and should be used to support a co-ordinated approach to dealing with any further changes and challenges that may arise during the course of the pandemic.

Please email if you have questions or would like to provide feedback on the Standards

We will continue to update this page with supporting information about implementation, monitoring and assessment of the Standards.