PSI - The Pharmacy Regulator Publishes 2023 Annual Report

June 28, 2024

The PSI has published its Annual Report and Financial Statements for 2023, outlining the significant work undertaken by the pharmacy regulator to protect the health, safety, and wellbeing of patients and the public by regulating pharmacists and pharmacies in Ireland.  

Key activities for the PSI during 2023 included:

  • Being invited to be a representative of the Expert Taskforce to Support the Expansion of the Role of Pharmacy in Ireland. 
  • Publishing the Workforce Intelligence Report, the first report of its kind for pharmacy in Ireland.
  • Adding 524 pharmacists to the Register, bringing the total number to 7,483, representing the largest ever single-year increase in first-time registration numbers.
  • Carrying out 143 risk-based pharmacy inspections.
  • Reviewing 135 expressions of concern about pharmacists and pharmacies 
  • Receiving 73 formal complaints, an increase of 36% versus 2022.
  • Hosting five regional roadshows as part of our ongoing commitment to engaging with registrants on patient safety and quality initiatives.
  • Launching a revised Core Competency Framework for Pharmacists.
  • Publishing a review of the CPD model in place for pharmacists and a report setting out a recommended CPD model for pharmaceutical assistants.
  • Launching the next phase of the PSI Business Transformation Project.

“Last year marked a period of considerable progress for the PSI, as we advanced a number of our strategic objectives, as set out in our Corporate Strategy 2021-2024."

Joanne Kissane, Registrar and Chief Officer, PSI - The Pharmacy Regulator

“The establishment of the Expert Taskforce by the Minister for Health to Support the Expansion of the Role of Pharmacy marked one of the most significant developments for pharmacy in Ireland in 2023. The expansion of the role of pharmacists in the public interest has been a strategic focus for the PSI Council and the Department of Health for some time. Our participation in the Expert Taskforce aligns with our objective to expand the role of pharmacy as part of an integrated healthcare system so that pharmacists can make an enhanced contribution to improving patient outcomes and accessibility.” 

The first recommendation of the Taskforce was accepted by the Minister for Health in November 2023. Under the recommendation, pharmacists are enabled to extend the validity of a prescription from six months up to a maximum period of 12 months if, in their professional judgement, it is safe and appropriate to do so. Prescribers are also enabled to issue prescriptions for up to 12 months. This recommendation is the first step in expanding the role of pharmacists in Ireland with the aim of improving patient access, streamlining healthcare delivery at the lowest point of complexity, and contributing to better patient outcomes, in line with the principles of Sláintecare.

September 2023 saw the publication of the Workforce Intelligence Report, providing a baseline view of the pharmacy workforce in Ireland. The report was commissioned to assess emerging risks to the continued availability of a professional pharmacy workforce in both community and hospital settings. It sheds light on the challenges experienced in relation to pharmacist recruitment and retention, incorporating insights from pharmacists and pharmacy students that will be used to support strategic workforce planning. The report identified six recommendations, each underpinned by a number of actions and a commitment from stakeholders, including the PSI, to implement these actions to secure a future sustainable pharmacist workforce.   

“Implementing the recommendations and actions in the Workforce Intelligence Report will significantly impact pharmacy and the role of pharmacists in patient-facing settings. Achieving these recommendations will require extensive collaboration, and we remain committed to working with stakeholders across the system to advance this important work.”

The annual report highlights a continued year-on-year increase in the number of pharmacists registering with the PSI, with a total of 7,483 pharmacists on the register at the end of the year. In 2023, 524 pharmacists registered with the regulator for the first time, marking the highest single-year increase in registrations. Of those newly registered pharmacists, just over one-third received their qualification from Irish universities, with one-fifth graduating in the UK. Additionally, there was a 165% increase in pharmacists registering from EU countries compared to 2022. The total number of pharmacies registered was 1,985, an increase of four from 2022.

A robust and transparent process to facilitate the public and pharmacy profession to raise concerns and bring forward complaints is a key pillar of the pharmacy regulator’s work. During 2023, a total of 135 expressions of concern were received, a 14% increase from 2022. Of these, 39% related to pharmacy practice issues. The majority of concerns (78%) were raised by members of the public, while 16% were raised by other pharmacists. Additionally, 73 formal complaints about pharmacists or pharmacies were received, marking a 36% increase on the previous year. The PSI shares information and learning from complaints and the outcomes of inquiries.  This is done in the interest of maintaining and upholding professional standards, raising awareness around patient and public safety matters, and promoting compliance with pharmacy and medicines legislation.

“The public is entitled to a high standard of care from pharmacists, and pharmacies must operate at high standards of quality and safety. We continued to uphold these standards through significant registration, inspection and enforcement activitivies carried out throughout the year. These activities are at the core of what we do and are delivered by highly committed and skilled colleagues from across the organisation. 

As part of its remit to ensure pharmacists are engaging in continuing professional development (CPD), the PSI commissioned an independent review of the CPD model for pharmacists and developed a proposal for a CPD model for pharmaceutical assistants. A revised Core Competency Framework for Pharmacists was also published.

“Patients and the public expect and deserve high-quality care and service from their pharmacists. The PSI supports this by setting and ensuring standards for education, training, and CPD. We were pleased to launch a revised Core Competency Framework for Pharmacists, which outlines the range of competencies expected of pharmacists in the early stages of their career.  This framework also supports a number of statutory functions and provides structure and guidance for all pharmacists when reflecting on their continuing professional development needs.   The review of the current CPD model for pharmacists was a significant achievement, containing a number of recommended changes in line with both emerging developments and international best practice in this area.”

The annual report highlights and commends the participation of pharmacists in both public health and information and awareness campaigns, with more than 1,300 community pharmacies participating in the Autumn/Winter vaccination campaign. In 2023, progress continued on the PSI Business Transformation Programme, aimed at enhancing ways of working across the PSI and ensuring it optimises use of technology and colleagues’ time and expertise in the best way possible. This multi-annual project is delivering a new digital platform for the PSI to provide a single customer view of all relevant registrant and risk-related data. In 2023, as part of this initiative, an online registration platform for completing Internet Supply List applications and an updated searchable internet supply list were launched.

“This past year has seen the progression of several strategic projects which will continue to shape the future of pharmacy in Ireland. We are pleased that advances have been made under our strategic objectives to assure continued trust in pharmacy. We look forward to delivering on our commitments in 2024 and to engaging positively and constructively with all stakeholders.”