The PSI welcomes announcement from Minister for Health to progress first recommendation by Expert Taskforce

November 6, 2023

PSI - The Pharmacy Regulator welcomes today’s announcement from the Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly T.D. to progress the first recommendation by the Expert Taskforce on expanding the scope of practice for pharmacists.

The Expert Taskforce was established in July this year by the Minister for Health and it is charged with considering and examining ways in which pharmacists can expand upon their present scope of practice, for the benefit of patients, the public and the wider health system. It is comprised of representatives from the health, pharmacy and pharmacy education sectors and includes Registrar and Chief Officer of PSI, Joanne Kissane. Its first report on recommendations was delivered to the Minister for Health last week.

The recommendation will enable pharmacists to extend the validity period of certain prescriptions, from a period of six months up to a maximum of 12 months. Registered pharmacists will also be able to use their professional judgement to extend a prescription. The decision on extending a prescription will be subject to person-centred criteria such as current stability of a patient’s clinical regime, continuity of care and lack of relevant change.

The measures will be implemented from 1 March 2024, allowing time for the completion of the necessary legislative changes and for regulatory and clinical guidance as well as educational support to be put in place. The Department of Health will conduct a review of the first recommendation after 12 months of its implementation into practice, to assess whether it is achieving its objective in alignment with governance policies and procedures.

“We welcome the announcement by Minister Donnelly and the commitment to progress the first recommendation from the Expert Taskforce.”

Joanne Kissane, Registrar and Chief Officer of the PSI.

“The first recommendation will play a significant role in alleviating pressure in the health system, improving patient access, healthcare delivery and leading to better patient outcomes. Further to this, it will also facilitate healthcare delivery, at the lowest point of complexity and in line with the vision of Sláintecare.

The move to establish the Taskforce was an important first step in examining how best to expand the scope of practice of pharmacists, taking full account of their expertise in medicines, training and education, with a view to enhancing patient outcomes and contributing to an overall enhanced healthcare system. It also aligns with our strategic objective to facilitate evidence-based practice by pharmacists where this is required by patient need and public policy. As part of our remit to ensure the public has access to trusted pharmacy services, our focus will remain on putting in place the appropriate regulatory frameworks, standards and training associated with these recommendations. We look forward to continuing to work with all pharmacy and health stakeholders in progressing this work.”