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PSI Annual Report 2021 is published

June 27, 2022

We have published our Annual Report and Financial Statements for 2021, outlining the significant work undertaken to protect the health, safety and wellbeing of patients and the public by regulating pharmacists and pharmacies in Ireland.

The report provides a detailed overview of the work undertaken so far in response to the ambitious targets of the PSI Corporate Strategy 2021-2023. Developed against the backdrop of the COVID-19 global pandemic and the significant threat posed to all sectors of society, the strategy, under the direction of the PSI Council, identifies key strategic objectives, including building pharmacy resilience, adopting a “digital first” business approach and developing a robust regulatory model for community pharmacy settings, items the PSI sees as critical to ensuring pharmacy healthcare activity is regulated to a high and consistent standard.

While COVID-19 had a large impact on the pharmacy sector and on our work in 2021, the PSI continued to deliver on extensive responsibilities and make strong progress in strategic projects, critical to assuring public and patient trust in pharmacy healthcare and services.

Commenting on the publication of the annual report, Interim Registrar and Chief Officer Dr Lorraine Horgan said that the regulator had continued to deliver on its statutory remit to ensure public and patient trust in the country’s pharmacy services during the immensely challenging circumstances of the global pandemic.

“COVID-19 had a huge bearing on the operational activities of the PSI and a significant amount of time and resources were engaged as part of the national response during 2021. We had extensive engagement and collaboration with the Department of Health and others to progress the requisite legislation*, systems, guidance, training, and governance to enable the effective participation of pharmacists and pharmacies in the national vaccination programme.”

“Pharmacists and pharmacies played a key role during the pandemic and maintaining public trust in the sector was of critical importance. Throughout the pandemic, pharmacists combined their ‘everyday’ duties with the extra responsibilities and demands brought about by the pandemic, across practice settings. Over 600,000 COVID-19 vaccines were administered in community pharmacies in the course of 2021. Our duty to ensure continued delivery of safe services remained and the ongoing implementation of the PSI’s COVID-19 Operational Standards, developed in 2020, was an important piece of work to provide guidance and support on the operating protocols for pharmacies during this period.”

Dr Horgan said that a total of 6,846 pharmacists were registered with the PSI at the end of 2021, with 1,981 pharmacies registered.

“It is part of our public protection remit to ensure that standards are met and maintained for pharmacists seeking to practise in Ireland, and that suitably trained pharmacists are available to provide safe, effective, and high-quality care that the public can continue to rely upon. While the growth in pharmacist registration numbers is less than pre-pandemic levels, there was a small net increase last year of about 80 pharmacists. We will continue to monitor carefully these numbers and impacts on the available pharmacy workforce as part of our pharmacist workforce project in 2022.”

“We launched a single on-line point of contact for registration applications and renewals last year, which has facilitated the movement of several processes online, delivering efficiencies in terms of enhanced online security, improved quality of access, and to reducing administrative burden for users, both internally and externally. It is part of our digital improvement journey.”

Dr Horgan also commented that the PSI receives information in different ways that informs its work. It recorded 607 general queries about pharmacy practice matters in 2021, of which 32% were related to COVID-19. There were 120 expressions of concern (whereby a member of the public brings a matter to the attention of the PSI but does not want to make a complaint) lodged with the PSI, and a multi-disciplinary team in the PSI assesses what regulatory action may need to be taken with these.

“Dealing effectively with complaints and disciplinary matters is a core feature of the PSI’s remit to maintain standards in pharmacies. During 2021, the PSI received 80 formal complaints. 59 complaints were considered by the PSI’s screening committee, the Preliminary Proceedings Committee, and in total there were 12 inquiries heard by the PSI’s statutory committees of inquiry last year.”

“Looking ahead, our focus is on ensuring we have the most effective regulatory systems in place that respond and evolve effectively and efficiently to assure the safety of pharmacy services and to meeting the needs of the developing healthcare system. Together with the President and all of the PSI Council, we look forward to continued beneficial engagement with the Minister for Health, his Department, our registrants and other state agencies, as we undertake our work in the public interest.”

*During 2021, a total of 16 statutory instruments to amend the Medicinal Products (Prescription & Control of Supply) Regulations 2003 to provide for the Covid-19 Vaccination Programme, and related changes to the programme were drafted by the Department of Health with the PSI providing assistance and review.

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