The Future of Pharmacy Regulation in Northern Ireland consultation closed on 14 June 2016 and a report is expected to be published by the end of the first week in July.

The consultation was launched in March by the then Health Minister, Simon Hamilton, to determine how regulation of the pharmacy profession in Northern Ireland would be delivered in the future.

The pharmacy profession plays an important and valued role in the delivery of health care in Northern Ireland,’ Minister Hamilton said at the time.

However I consider that now is the right time to review the current arrangements for pharmacy regulation in Northern Ireland to ensure that we have modern, fit for purpose arrangements that ensure public safety…

I consider that the current arrangement where the regulation and professional leadership of pharmacy is contained in the same organisation must change.’

The consultation presented a number of options to address the situation:

  • that regulation of the pharmacy profession would continue to be delivered by the Society ie, as both a regulator and professional leadership body
  • that a standalone Northern Ireland regulator would be appointed
  • to join the current regulatory model operating across the other three UK countries provided by the GPhC (General Pharmaceutical Council)

The NPA has already expressed its concern that the consultation did not fully investigate the impact of a range of options to modernise regulation and professional pharmacy.

Neither the public nor registrants are provided with sufficient information on all available options to make an informed response on the most effective future model,’ the NPA said in a statement.

The single most important factor in delivering modernised and strengthened statutory regulation is the assurance of public safety. We believe that this consultation does not fully evidence the improvements to public safety which would be envisaged by a UK-wide regulatory arrangement.’

UCA Operation Manager, Adrienne Clugston commented, ‘The DHSSPS consultation on pharmacy regulation must be taken as part of a wider review of healthcare regulation getting under way in the UK, with pre-consultation events taking place this summer, which may explain the lack of detail given on the options under consideration locally. UCA will be fully involved in discussions on the future representation and regulation of pharmacy and pharmacists in Northern Ireland and within the UK.’

Pharmacy in Focus will be covering this in full once the findings have become available.

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