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PSI Strategy 2018-2020: assuring trust in pharmacy through effective regulation

February 15, 2018

Read the PSI Corporate Strategy 2018-2020

The PSI has published its new Corporate Strategy 2018-2020 outlining a programme of activities intended to further develop the regulator’s important contribution to assuring trust in pharmacists, in pharmacy services and the achievement of better public health outcomes. Through its role in regulating 6,050 pharmacists and over 1,900 pharmacies, the PSI will work to improve public understanding of what good pharmacy practice looks like and to assure the high standards that can be expected by everyone availing of pharmacist-provided care. This is reflected in the proposal to publish more extensive information gathered in the course of its monitoring of pharmacy services through its inspection function.

Niall Byrne, PSI Registrar said “the public now expects higher levels of performance and accountability from those in positions of professional responsibility, including pharmacists, and transparency is a key component in building public trust. By exploring the merits of publishing new formats of inspection reports, our intention is that credit is given for the good practices found in pharmacies during our inspections, while also clearly identifying those pharmacies that fail to deliver appropriate or quality services. Our intention always is to gather evidence that assures the public of the quality and safety of the care and services they receive in pharmacies.”

A key pillar of the strategy is a focus on the PSI’s plans to enhance its engagement and communication, raise awareness of its role and advance how it collaborates with its registrants and those pursuing wider health policy and quality improvements. Central to this is PSI’s work with other state agencies within the health system on matters such as legislative reform as well as improved public health outcomes, including the promotion of the recommendations of the Future Pharmacy Practice Report. These proposals are among a comprehensive programme of initiatives set out in the Corporate Strategy which are intended to build a more streamlined and effective pharmacy regulatory system over the coming three years.

“As well as adopting the most effective and proportionate approach to the regulation of pharmacists and pharmacies, and promoting best practice in pharmacy, as a regulator we must be capable of meeting future health challenges. Our focus is on ensuring that pharmacists in patient-facing roles are, and remain, competent to offer individualised advice and treatment into the future. This includes facilitating and supporting the proposed expansion of pharmacy services by revising standards, ensuring further education and training opportunities are in place and that all registered pharmacists are engaged in continued professional development,” Mr Byrne added.

This year also sees the review of the PSI’s professional Code of Conduct for pharmacists to ensure it continues to reflect the changing healthcare environment and the evolving role of pharmacists within the wider health service. As healthcare professionals, there is a need for each pharmacist to manage potential conflicts which may arise between business and organisational goals, and their own professional ethics. The Code sets out the ethical standards which govern the practice of pharmacy and which the public, patients and other healthcare professionals require and expect of pharmacists.

PSI President Rory O’Donnell spoke about the new Corporate Strategy starting at a crossroads to change. “In less than ten years, we have seen significant achievements in establishing clear structures of regulation. We have moved towards a more risk-based approach to inspection, for example. The education and training of pharmacy students has been radically reformed along with the requirements for the continuous professional development of existing registrants. The PSI has also supported the expansion of vaccination services within pharmacies and we have undertaken a major programme of research and stakeholder engagement, through the Future of Pharmacy Practice Report, to assess how pharmacy can help meet the future needs of patients and members of the public. Now we are going to build on our work to date, ensuring a regulatory system that affirms the trust that the public places in it and is capable of meeting future patient and health service needs.”

“Demand for healthcare services in Ireland continues to increase, due to the country’s ageing population and increased life expectancy. With national health policy continuing to focus on enhancing preventative healthcare, promoting wellbeing, and prioritising patient care needs as close to home as possible, pharmacists have a critical role to play in the delivery of safe, effective healthcare services. Research continues to show that pharmacists are the most accessed healthcare professional, with an estimated 2 million visits to a pharmacy by the public per month, “Mr. O’Donnell added.

While the implications of Brexit for the sector are still uncertain, PSI acknowledges within the Strategy that it may be required to allocate additional resources, during the term of the plan, to manage the effects of the UK’s decision to leave the EU. The possible implications for the PSI include the movement of pharmacists between jurisdictions and the facilitation of cross-border healthcare. The PSI manages different routes of registration for pharmacists to practice in Ireland, with a large cohort coming each year from the UK, including returning Irish students. “As the impact of Brexit becomes clearer, we will work closely with the Department of Health, and other healthcare regulators in Ireland and across Europe to minimise the negative impact on Ireland,” said Mr Byrne. 

Find annual service plans, reports and strategy in PSI publications.

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