The responsible pharmacist regulations are to be reviewed after an independent review found that they were not achieving their original objectives. The review found that the regulations have not improved patient safety or professional autonomy, but significantly increased pharmacists’ criminal liability, stress and paperwork.

The review was based on the findings of a survey commissioned by the Royal Pharmaceutical Society at the request of the Department of Health and in light of the pending consultation on the closely linked supervision requirements.

Authors of the report concluded that: “Seven out of ten pharmacists agreed that the regulations put the RP in a difficult position by making them legally responsible for people and process outside their control; qualitatively this was driving behaviours which were felt to undermine patient safety, as well as adding professional stress and workplace tension.”

Recommendations include:

  • Clarify the policy intent around absence, defining what can be done and enabling the clinical role of the pharmacist
  • Empower the RP to make decisions around how absence is used, as well as to make changes to safety procedures
  • Distinguish the balance of responsibilities between RP and superintendent/owner
  • Reduce the complexity of SOPs to a minimal standardised framework