Viewpoint. Supervision : The Sequel
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With so much going on, one item that may have slipped under the radar is the news that the group formed by pharmacy bodies to explore the future of pharmacy supervision is cracking on with its work as the Government prepares to embark on legislative reform in this controversial area. It has held its second meeting and will meet again on March 2.
This is good news. At last here is a concerted and collaborative cross-sector attempt to take ownership of the supervision issue and lead the agenda rather than risk having unwanted change imposed by the politicians.
Interestingly, perhaps to provide impartiality and an external perspective, the Association of Optometrists will act as the group secretariat – a shrewd move given the sensitivity of the subject, especially as the optical sector is itself grappling with similar issues around delegation and supervision.
It's hard to judge precisely but I'd say there is already general agreement on the need to update pharmacy’s practice model to reflect modern demands. The hard part is agreeing a way that enables the workforce to maximise its professional capabilities to enhance patient care without compromising access to a pharmacist or public safety. If this was an easy thing to accomplish, it would have been done years ago.
One problem is that decades of case law have failed to define what supervision actually means for pharmacists and their staff. Maybe the working group should argue that, in the absence of such a definition, pharmacy owners already have the flexibility to adapt supervision to modern pharmacy practice, taking into account aspects such as technology and a trained workforce. Is a change in the law even necessary?
Either way, some sort of reform appears inevitable. The working group needs to consult widely, establish what quality clinical care from pharmacies looks like and advocate a model of supervision that enables this to happen – while steering well clear of the ‘remote’ word. We wish it well.
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