Pharmacy regulators have given the green light for dispensed medicines to be collected from a pharmacy in the absence of the responsible pharmacist during the COVID-19 crisis, even when no locum cover can be secured.
In a joint statement issued yesterday (March 19) by General Pharmaceutical Council chief executive Duncan Rudkin and Pharmaceutical Society of Northern Ireland chief executive Trevor Patterson, they acknowledged there may be situations where the responsible pharmacist unavoidably has to leave a pharmacy at short notice part-way through the day – for example, if they are unwell and need to self-isolate.
“Where no locum cover can be secured at the pharmacy, and recognising the potential effects of the current pandemic, it would be in the patient’s best interest for medicines already dispensed to be supplied from the pharmacy rather than not supplied at all, even though this may not be in strict accordance with the law as normally understood,” the regulators said.
Saying that they will support pharmacy professionals in making this judgement in patients’ best interests, they stressed: “In such circumstances we would expect there to be access to a pharmacist by phone or video link to provide direction for the remaining staff in the pharmacy. Such an approach should only be adopted for a short time period, where other options have been exhausted.”
Except in such exceptional circumstances, even in the current pandemic situation, arrangements must be made for a pharmacist to be at the pharmacy, including to undertake the responsible pharmacist role and supervise the sale and supply of POM and P medicines, the regulators emphasised.