Limerick East): I presume the Deputy is referring to the Medicinal Products (Prescription and Control of Supply) Regulations, 1996, which were recently introduced.
The new regulations clarify the position with regard to the supply of medicinal products by registered nurses in the course of a service provided by a hospital providing community mental health services to patients. The supply is restricted to a quantity sufficient for a period of treatment not exceeding three days in accordance with the written directions of a registered medical practitioner of that service.
An Bord Altranais, the nursing regulatory body, issued its Guidance to Nurses and Midwives on the administration of Medical Preparations in 1995. Concern had been expressed to me regarding the impact of the application of the guidance notes on the mental health services at local level. While the regulations seek to address these concerns, my Department is in on-going consultation with An Bord Altranais on the matter.
I am aware that concern has been expressed by hospital pharmacists regarding the inclusion of this new provision in the regulations. I believe this concern is unfounded having regard to the fact that the situation now provided for is more restrictive than that which existed under the former regulations. In any event the controls now provided for in no way alter the role of the pharmacist in the overall control and supervision of medicines dispensed in hospitals.