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Parliament approves legislation on inadvertent dispensing errors

The Royal Pharmaceutical Society has welcomed the news that long-awaited legislation to introduce a new defence around inadvertent dispensing errors has been approved by Parliament.

After being unanimously passed by MPs on Monday and following a final House of Lords committee on Wednesday, the Pharmacy (Preparation and Dispensing Errors–Registered Pharmacies) Order 2018 is now expected to come into effect next year.

This UK-wide measure introduces new defences to the criminal offences relating to inadvertent preparation or dispensing errors by registered pharmacy professionals acting in the course of their profession in registered pharmacies.

This aims to increase patient safety by reducing the fear of criminal prosecution and encouraging a more open culture of error reporting and learning from mistakes.

The Department of Health is working with the Health Departments in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, to develop similar measures for hospitals and other specified pharmacy settings such as pharmacy services for prisons and care homes, and plans to consult on draft proposals in the New Year.

Ash Soni, President of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society, said:

“This is fantastic news for pharmacists and patient safety. We have campaigned tirelessly, over a number of years to address the historical imbalance between professional regulation and criminal law and to keep this in front of policymakers.

“We recognise that this has been a long journey for the profession but I am now hopeful and excited that we can build on this important milestone, engage with wider stakeholders and see similar proposals for hospitals and other pharmacy settings.

“Public safety is of paramount importance to the profession and it is in everyone’s best interests that this barrier to a safer, high-quality service has been removed.”

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