Views sought on the future of pharmacy regulation in Northern Ireland

Date published: 22 March 2016

Health Minister Simon Hamilton today announced the launch of a public consultation on how regulation of the pharmacy profession in Northern Ireland will be delivered in the future.

Health Minister Simon Hamilton Official

Explaining his objective to strengthen and modernise regulation of the pharmacy profession in Northern Ireland the Minister commented: “The pharmacy profession plays an important and valued role in the delivery of health care in Northern Ireland.

“This will increase in the future given the many new and exciting opportunities that are being developed. The public can be confident that pharmacy professionals and their teams deliver an excellent service to a high professional standard.

“However I consider that now is the right time to review the current arrangements for pharmacy regulation in Northern Ireland to ensure that we have modern, fit for purpose arrangements that ensure public safety and which carry public confidence”.

The Minister continued: “I consider that the current arrangement where the regulation and professional leadership of pharmacy is contained in the same organisation must change.

“The consultation document invites comment on some possible future options. The feedback from this consultation exercise will be an important part of developing the evidence base upon which a decision on the future arrangements can be made”.

The Minister concluded:  “I warmly welcome all feedback from those interested in the future regulation of the pharmacy profession in Northern Ireland.”

The consultation closes at 5pm on 14 June 2016 and is available on the department’s website

Notes to editors: 

1. The Future of Pharmacy Regulation in Northern Ireland consultation aims to provide a number of options for how regulation can be delivered in a modernised and strengthened way.

2. Pharmaceutical Society of Northern Ireland (the Society) currently acts as both the regulator and professional leadership body for pharmacy. This dual role is not seen across other healthcare professions where regulation and leadership are provided by two distinct organisations thereby providing complete separation of these roles.

3. A number of government reports including the 2007 White Paper ‘Trust, Assurance and Safety – The Regulation of Health Professionals in the 21st Century and the Law Commissions report on the Review of Healthcare Professionals Regulation in 2014 have highlighted that regulators must be entirely impartial from any influence from the profession.  They must be separate and seen to be so by the public to ensure upmost confidence in the exercise of their functions.

4. The consultation presents a number of options:

  • that regulation of the pharmacy profession will continue to be delivered by the Society i.e. as both a regulator and professional leadership body.
  • that a standalone Northern Ireland regulator is appointed or
  • to join the current regulatory model operating across the other three UK countries provided by the GPhC (General Pharmaceutical Council)

5. Media queries to DHSSPS Press Office on 028 90520575, or out of office hours contact the Duty Press Officer via pager number 076 9971 5540 and your call will be returned. Follow us on twitter @healthserviceni 

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