A petition designed to stop government plans that would allow pharmacies to operate in the absence of a qualified pharmacist has gained more than 5,000 signatures.

If ministers succeed in driving the proposals through, a pharmacist will be able to work as the responsible pharmacist for more than one pharmacy at a time, leaving them physically unavailable to supervise the supply of medicines in all the pharmacies under their control.

That has been met with fierce resistance from the community pharmacy sector, epitomised by the petition which was launched by Mariam Ahmed and runs until April 18 next year.

It has attracted more than 5,275 signatures, with 10,000 signatures compelling the government to respond and 100,000 forcing a parliamentary debate on the petition which has the support of the Pharmacists’ Defence Association (PDA).

“(We) urge you to help double the current figure, if the petition reaches 10,000 signatures it will receive a response from the government,” the PDA said.

The petition read: “Whilst a pharmacy is open it is a fundamental patient right that a qualified pharmacist is available on site at all times to consult in person, without the need for an appointment. Patient safety would be jeopardised if a pharmacist wasn't present in a pharmacy.

“The government has proposed that pharmacists could end up signed in as the responsible pharmacist for more than one pharmacy at a time and therefore not physically available to patients.

“The government's proposals will ultimately lead to medicines dispensing and supply taking place without the supervision of a pharmacist. This will be detrimental to patient care and safety and the legislative changes must not go ahead.”

Former Royal Pharmaceutical Society president Martin Astbury tweeted: “Questions need to be raised about the transparency of the recent RP consultation. Proposed: The power to extend absence beyond 2 hours Will pass from the Minister to the Regulator. This was not explicitly mentioned in the consultation questions.”

 

Picture: PeopleImages (iStock)

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