Tuesday, 26 March 2019

Questions (908)

John McGuinness

Question:

908. Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for Health his plans to progress the proposed changes to the work practices of pharmaceutical assistants; if he has engaged with organisations (details supplied) on their proposals and concerns; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14033/19]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

The Pharmacy Act 2007 established the Pharmaceutical Society of Ireland (PSI) and the functions of the Society are set out in the Act. The functions of the PSI are carried out on its behalf by the Council of the Society.

Section 30 of the Pharmacy Act 2007 provides for an exception to the general provision in the Act which requires the sale and supply of medicines at a pharmacy to be conducted under the personal supervision of a registered pharmacist, and specifies that no offence is committed where a registered pharmaceutical assistant “acts on behalf of a registered pharmacist during the temporary absence of the registered pharmacist”.

The Pharmaceutical Society of Ireland (Temporary Absence of Pharmacist from Pharmacy) Rules 2019 were developed by the PSI in accordance with Section 30 of the Pharmacy Act 2007, which also permits the Council to make rules as to:

1: What may or may not be done by a registered pharmaceutical assistant when acting on behalf of a registered pharmacist; and

2: What constitutes the temporary absence of a registered pharmacist.

On 6 December, the Council of the PSI approved a revised draft of the Pharmaceutical Society of Ireland (Temporary Absence of Pharmacist from Pharmacy) Rules 2018 for issuance for public consultation. This public consultation commenced on 13 December 2018 and ran until 11 January 2019, affording any interested party the opportunity to make representations on the matter directly to the PSI.

At its meeting on 14 February 2019, the Council of the PSI approved the draft Rules, subject to certain amendments made on foot of the Council’s consideration of the results of the latest public consultation.

On 08 March 2019, the PSI submitted the Pharmaceutical Society of Ireland (Temporary Absence of Pharmacist from Pharmacy) Rules 2019 to me for my consent, in accordance with the requirements of the Pharmacy Act 2007. These were accompanied by a lengthy submission detailing the PSI’s rationale for the drafting of the Rules.

In April 2017, officials from my Department met with representatives of the Pharmaceutical Assistants' Association (PAA) to discuss the association’s concerns regarding the PSI’s development of draft Rules governing the practice of registered pharmaceutical assistants during the temporary absence of a pharmacist.

Throughout the course of this process my Department has received correspondence from and on behalf of registered pharmaceutical assistants outlining their concerns with regard to the drafting of these Rules.

Under the Pharmacy Act 2007, my role in relation to this process is limited to the consideration of any such Rules once submitted for my consent and in doing so I will give careful consideration to the Rules as submitted by the PSI and to the concerns raised by or on behalf of registered pharmaceutical assistants.