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Pharmacy Regulator Publishes 2017 Annual Report

August 10, 2018

PSI-The Pharmacy Regulator
  • 346 pharmacists added to the register bringing the total to over 6,000
  • 310 pharmacy inspections conducted
  • 46 formal complaints processed and over 100 concerns assessed
  • Registrar underlines importance of collaborative approach to providing quality services

PSI, the pharmacy regulator, has published its 2017 Annual Report, which highlights its key activities and achievements during the year. These included extensive activity in the areas of registration, inspection of pharmacies, investigations, practice development as well as the handling of 46 complaints* about registered pharmacists and pharmacies. Over two million visits are made to pharmacies every month by the public, making pharmacists the most accessed healthcare professionals in Ireland.

The PSI regulates the professional practice of over 6,000 pharmacists, 362 pharmaceutical assistants and 1,930 pharmacies. During 2017, there was a net increase of 346 registered pharmacists and 25 pharmacies. The PSI carried out 310 pharmacy inspections to assess whether pharmacies are providing safe and appropriate care to people using them. As part of its continued development of how it regulates pharmacy businesses, it also rolled out a new pharmacy assessment system, a self-audit tool for ongoing use by pharmacies in assessing the quality of their own services. In support of its adoption in pharmacies, PSI regulatory staff made 1,826 advisory visits to pharmacies during the year. The majority of pharmacists who were implementing the system (79%) were positive about its benefits, saying it had already helped them identify areas for improvement.

Niall Byrne, Registrar and Chief Officer of the PSI, said that the summary of activities contained in the report reflects the extensive work undertaken by the regulatory body during the year to meet its commitment to patient safety and to upholding public trust in the quality of pharmacy services. “The public places significant expectations on pharmacists, who play an important role in public health and patient care. In addition to their widespread availability across the country, the profession is highly trusted. The PSI’s core objective is to play our part in maintaining that trust through a robust and effective regulatory system,” he said.

The majority of the 46 formal complaints related to alleged dispensing errors and pharmacy practice issues and came from patients. Over 100 concerns** were also received from the public and each was assessed for risk to patient safety. Of these, 14 were later referred into the PSI’s formal complaints process.

While the number of matters raised with the PSI about pharmacists or pharmacies was relatively low, Niall Byrne said there cannot be room for complacency when it comes to the competence of individual pharmacists or the safety and quality of pharmacy services. “The PSI believes in building a collaborative approach to the effective and appropriate delivery of pharmacy services, where all stakeholders play their role. Pharmacists, particularly those with governance responsibilities, and pharmacy owners, have a clear duty of care to their patients and to the wider public. By working together, the regulator and the profession can continue to build a stronger culture of patient safety and thereby ensure that future patient needs are met through the availability of competent and capable pharmacists working within well-governed and safe pharmacy services.”

Mr Byrne added that the changing and evolving healthcare environment was one of the catalysts for the decision to review the Code of Conduct for Pharmacists. The review, which began during 2017, has included a series of consultations that have continued into 2018. “The Code is the declaration of standards that pharmacists operate under; it has been in place since 2009 and it is timely to review it to ensure that it continues to reflect current practice environments, the evolving pharmacist role, legal requirements and our changing health service,” Mr Byrne said.

The Registrar also highlighted the public’s important role in helping to ensure a safe system of care for themselves, their family and those for whom they care. “As set out in our Patient Charter, everyone should expect safe and effective pharmacy services, dignity and respect, accountability, adequate information, as well as privacy in relation to their health data. According to research for the PSI, a clear majority (91%) of pharmacy service users say that their pharmacist cares about their health and wellbeing and takes time to talk to them. However, when standards fall short of public expectations, we encourage people to raise the concern, ideally by speaking directly with their pharmacist, or to contact us so that we can investigate and take any appropriate action that may be necessary.”

The pharmacy regulator also finalised its Corporate Strategy for 2018 – 2020, which will shape how it delivers on its remit in new ways over the coming years, including managing the challenges arising with Brexit and the likely impacts for pharmacists as health professionals, and practical patient issues such as medicines availability. “What we set out in our strategy is the PSI playing its part in the broader system of health regulation which provides support, raises awareness, addresses safety issues, promotes improvement and collaborates with others to positively influence healthcare provision, equality of access and treatment and respect for, and recognition of, each individual’s differing needs and human rights,” said Mr Byrne.

Other key activities highlighted in the report include:

  • 1,300 pharmacists were selected to submit an extract of their continuing professional development (CPD) ePortfolio for review
  • 455 queries related to pharmacy practice were answered by PSI staff.
  • A review of the training requirements for provision of emergency medicines and vaccines in pharmacies was carried out.
  • 4 public consultations were carried out to inform the PSI’s work.
  • 7 meetings of the PSI Council were held.
  • 13 formal fitness-to-practice inquiries were conducted by the PSI’s Health Committee (5) and by its Professional Conduct Committee (8).

The complete 2017 Annual Report can be viewed on the PSI website.

*2016: 42 complaints; 2015 - 27; 2014 - 51; 2013 - 48; 2012 – 48. The PSI is the appropriate body to which formal complaints about pharmacists and pharmacies in Ireland can be made.

**A concern is an unsolicited communication from a member of the public or another third party which suggests that there may be cause to be concerned as to the safety or competence of a pharmacist or a pharmacy. Each concern is carefully assessed to determine if further action by PSI is required.

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