We have published our Annual Report for 2022

June 19, 2023
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The PSI Annual Report and Financial Statements 2022 have been published, outlining the significant work undertaken last year to protect the health, safety and wellbeing of patients and the public by regulating pharmacists and pharmacies in Ireland.

There were 7,067 pharmacists registered with the PSI - the pharmacy regulator at the end of last year, continuing the year-on-year increase to the Register of Pharmacists in Ireland (with 7,180 pharmacists registered at the end of May 2023). Of the pharmacists registered, there was an 83% increase, in comparison to 2021, in pharmacists registering from the EU (European Union), UK and other non-EU routes. At 1,981, the number of pharmacies in the state remained stable on the previous year.

The increase in the number of registered pharmacists corresponds with an increase in queries and applications about registering to work as a pharmacist in Ireland, and the regulator’s ongoing work to process these requests and to continue to streamline processes, such as the route to registration for non-EU/EEA pharmacists.

In the report, the PSI commends the contribution of pharmacists and pharmacies to the national vaccine programmes. Pharmacists have administered 1.3 million Covid-19 vaccines since the programme was rolled-out, including over 635,000 Covid-19 vaccinations in 2022. This was facilitated by the pharmacy regulator working in collaboration with the Department of Health and other pharmacy and health stakeholders, to revise the necessary legislative framework and to ensure the availability of adequate training for pharmacists to underpin their safe participation in the vaccine programme and to also assure public and patient trust.

"The publication of this year’s annual report outlines the significant work programme undertaken by the PSI as part of our regulatory remit to ensure the safe delivery of pharmacy healthcare and to assure public and patient trust in one of Ireland’s most accessed healthcare professions."

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

"Given the challenges within healthcare and for pharmacy, the rise in the number of pharmacists registered to practise is to be welcomed, with a return to pre-pandemic levels of registration activity noticeable for the PSI during 2022. Overall, the PSI’s focus remains on ensuring that pharmacists available to practice in Ireland, and the pharmacies operating, can provide quality, safe healthcare, and that, together with our registrants, we maintain these high standards. The work undertaken by us to provide the structure and requisite supports, as part of a legislative framework, is vital to underpinning the confidence and trust of patients and public in pharmacy healthcare.

Progress regarding the project to assess the emerging risks to the future pharmacy workforce, was also noted. Undertaken with input from other health and pharmacy stakeholders, the project is taking a medium to long-term view of the factors influencing pharmacy workforce challenges in Ireland, in consideration of workforce availability and plans for the evolving health system. The project commenced in 2022, with the establishment of a Working Group made up of participants drawn from the Department of Health, HSE, Schools of Pharmacy and organisations across the health and pharmacy sector. The instigation of the first ever pharmacy workforce survey in late 2022 will also contribute an important baseline picture of the current pharmacy workforce and will inform future discussions and planning.

The initiation of the first ever pharmacy workforce survey was a positive development, in the context of gaining a baseline view of current workforce needs and challenges in the Irish context and ensuring our regulatory framework is robust and responsive to future workforce needs. We are continuing this work in 2023 with recommendations arising from the project to be published in a Workforce Intelligence Report later this year. The 2022 annual report also documents the numbers of complaints and fitness to practise matters dealt with by the PSI last year. Part of the PSI’s work involves responding to different information about pharmacists or the operation of a pharmacy.

During 2022, 53 complaints were received about pharmacists or pharmacies, representing a 33% reduction in formal complaints received from the public, in comparison to the previous year. Of the complaints reviewed last year by the regulator’s Preliminary Proceedings Committee (PPC), the complaint screening committee, 13 were referred for further action, which can include referral to an inquiry or for mediation.

The PSI recorded and provided 432 responses to regulatory and pharmacy practice queries from registrants and members of the public and handled 118 expressions of concern (86% from members of the public). Of the concerns raised in 2022, six resulted in formal complaints being made after further investigation.

The report also notes a return to in-person disciplinary inquiries. Of the total number of inquiries held (17), by either the Professional Conduct Committee or Health Committee of the PSI, 11 were conducted fully remotely (online), five took place in person at PSI House, with one taking place in a hybrid manner. Among a series of key developments throughout the year, the ongoing engagement with the Department of Health on the need to reform the Pharmacy Act 2007, was highlighted.

As the regulatory body overseeing pharmacist and pharmacy standards of care, we are extremely conscious of the need to reform elements of the existing legislation. The Pharmacy Act has played a critical role in creating an assurance framework for patients and the public to access safe, quality, pharmacy services. However, time has moved on, and there is a need to ensure the legislation is fit to support effective regulation into the future, and for the overall benefit of patients and the public.

To that end, we were pleased to submit a position paper to the Department of Health in 2022, highlighting the need for reform, articulating the challenges in the current legislative framework, but so too, opportunities presented through reform. We look forward to continued engagement with the Department of Health on this matter.

This annual report demonstrates the many ways in which we, as a regulatory body, fulfil our role and engage with a range of people in doing so. At the heart of all our regulatory activities is our role to safeguard patients to ensure the best possible outcomes. We are pleased to have made considerable progress on areas of key strategic importance.

As a regulatory authority, we are conscious of the work undertaken by the pharmacy profession to participate in the national Covid-19 vaccination programme and further to this, the most recent Autumn/Winter ‘flu campaign. I want to commend the pharmacy profession on this noteworthy contribution, mindful that such activities were also undertaken with a considerable pre-existing workload.

The pharmacy profession and operating environment is continuously evolving, and it is important that all changes, are underpinned by a robust regulatory framework, to ensure public and patient trust in pharmacy healthcare and to also ensure pharmacy is part of a fully integrated healthcare system. As always, we will continue to work collaboratively and engage positively and constructively with all health stakeholders as part of the broader healthcare system.”