Al Patel, contractor at Lee Pharmacy in south east London, reports on how his staff have been preparing for the introduction of the Falsified Medicines Directive

Last week, we introduced a timeline of things that need to be done before the Falsified Medicines Directive (FMD) deadline because it’s only one of the bits and pieces we’ve got to prepare for. We’ve got the quality payments scheme (QPS) submissions, medicines use review (MUR) submissions and other things like that coming up. There’s so much going on that it’s difficult to prioritise what needs to be done and some things end up being forgotten. That’s why the timeline we’ve done is absolutely fantastic.

We’ve also had weekly team meetings and in these we’ve discussed potential ways of working once FMD comes into effect. We watched the National Pharmacy Association (NPA) webinar last week, so all the staff have been watching that and it was a good training preparation. We’ve also discussed ideas of the best ways of working. For example, at the moment we do quarterly date checks and this January will be out last manual way of doing date checking for all the medicines. After that it’ll be the FMD system that points out what’s gone out of date and what hasn’t.


'A lot of confusion'


The staff are still feeling some nervousness and there’s still a lot of confusion as to how we’re going to be working, as well as ‘what if’ scenarios. What if, for example, someone drops off their prescription, we scan it out and then they pop out to go to the dry cleaners and then doesn’t come back to pick up their meds? What happens in those kinds of situations? So we’ve rejigged the whole system of the ready script unit as well just to make it a little easier.

We’ve now registered with SecurMed. There seems to be a bit of a backlog with that, so we’re a little nervous as to whether we’ll be on the system in time. That’s the most pressing thing to do now for contractors – registering with SecurMed.

Our readiness will depend on things like the scanners. We’ve ordered them but they haven’t arrived and the software still hasn’t been updated. It’s a question of trying to get everything synchronised so that the scanners come on time and we can then start using the software and get training done.


Still not ready


I’m still not feeling ready. I’ll feel ready once the equipment comes and we’ve seen it working and changed our standard operating procedures (SOPs). We’ve done a lot more preparation compared to last week so I feel more confident that the staff are a bit more upskilled.

Since watching the NPA webinar, I’m feeling a bit more confident in terms of how the system works. The only thing I’m not too confident about is troubleshooting and hiccoughs once we go live. There isn’t protocol with my provider if that happens and there doesn’t seem to be a national help desk number.

I’ll probably only feel ready in two weeks’ time. My assumption has been that the scanners will come the week before the deadline or maybe during that week and then that’s when we’ll have to start getting ready, change anything, possibly do an audit and then change our SOPs.

Find out how Al got on with FMD preparations with four weeks to go here