Selling online - lawfully
In March, MHRA published advice to retailers who sell medicines online. If you sell medicines in the UK, online, you must of course follow UK law but if you have any purchasers in the EEA, then you must ensure that the transaction complies with the law in the country to which you are making the supply. In particular, you should register to sell a medicine to the public over the internet and display an EU common logo on every page of your website.
The Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) published a generally favourable report in April, giving its findings on how patient data was handled in community pharmacies. Areas for improvement included fair processing notices on pharmacy websites, upgrading from Windows XP and creating a secure and confidential location for fax machines. The April issue of the GPhC's Regulate highlighted further ICO recommendations: making sure that you fully understand consent procedures to the keeping and processing of patient data, using individual log-ons to support an audit trail and the need for training, refreshed annually, on data protection for all staff who handle patient data.
Whilst on this subject, another reminder about implementing the EU General Data Protection Regulation by May 2018 (see update no. 15). There is now guidance on preparing for implementation from the PSNC, the RPS and the NPA (last two require membership).
And even more on this subject, the PSNC has published guidance on compliance with the NHS information governance requirements to be completed by the end of March 2018.
New website for reporting patient safety incidents
In anticipation of legislation implementing of defences to criminalisation of dispensing errors (see also below), pharmacy organisations have been undertaking much work to identify, record and learn from such errors across the country. From June, a new website provides a hub for reporting patient safety incidents as well as providing information on safeguarding procedures, delivery services, creating a safety culture, risk assessment and calculations for children’s medication. A "schematic" is also included to illustrate some of the governance at pharmacy and head office levels that should occur when an incident is reported.
GPhC new standards for pharmacy professionals
The long process to update the "code of ethics" and "standards of conduct, ethics and performance" culminated in May, with the GPhC Standards for Pharmacy Professionals, which applies equally to pharmacists and pharmacy technicians, and to students and trainees where appropriate (the separate code of conduct for pharmacy students has been dropped). The standards are now nine in number and will feature in the revalidation processes expected later in 2018. The top level standards were supplemented in June by practice guidance on religion, personal values and beliefs. The latter was also the subject of an explanatory article in Regulate.
GPhC consultation on the pharmacy team
The GPhC is consulting on new guidance for pharmacy owners to supplement existing standards for registered pharmacies. The consultation sets out what they are expected to do to ensure everyone in the pharmacy team can provide safe and effective pharmacy services. The consultation closes on 11th October 2017.
When not to register
The August issue of Regulate included an unexpected piece of guidance to provide information for former registrants and pharmacy employers considering employing - or continuing to employ - staff who were formerly on the GPhC register.
You haven't missed anything. The General Election strangled any parliamentary progress and Brexit will probably do the same. The legislation will still be laid "soon".
This is my last superintendents update. I hang up my spurs this year, just in time to miss revalidation (shame!) and I come off the register and will close my consultancy at the end of 2017. I am grateful to all of my clients, students and colleagues for keeping me in work for a further ten years after retirement. It has been great fun and very challenging on occasion but I now need to stop. I wish all of you a prosperous and satisfying future, more intelligent, imaginative and appreciative political masters and above all, the best of luck!
Prepared on 5th September 2017 by Joy Wingfield, pharmacy academic and consultant. All links accessed September 2017.
Would you like to join the Pharmacy Law and Ethics Association? It is for pharmacists who are interested in law and ethics and lawyers or ethicists who are interested in pharmacy. Annual fee currently £25 (even to RPS members). Visit www.PLEA.org.uk for details of how to join.