Welcome to the Website of the National Association of Registered Pharmaceutical Assistants.

To represent and preserve the interests of our members including their right “to work, to free choice of employment, to just and
favourable conditions of work and to protection against unemployment”
(Article 23’ United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 1984)

To support qualified pharmaceutical assistants, work in partnership with pharmacy bodies to deliver professional excellence, ensuring the delivery of safe and professional service to the public.

To liaise with regulatory bodies on behalf of our members.

Did You Know?

Next PSI Council Meeting : 22nd March 2018

Council meetings take place in public at the PSI office, which is located at PSI House, 15-19 Fenian St, Dublin 2. Meeting agendas are normally published one week in advance of the meeting.
Should you wish to attend please contact Éanna Ó Lochlainn (eanna.olochlainn@psi.ie) at least one working day in advance of the meeting, stating any particular access requirements you may have.


Tuesday, 7 November 2017

  • Parliamentary Question:*
    798. Deputy Bríd Smith asked the Minister for Health to ensure there will be no changes to the definition of temporary absence of a pharmacist in view of the fact that some proposed changes could have dramatic effects on the working arrangements of pharmaceutical assistants who have experience and skill at their jobs; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [46756/17]

Pharmaceutical Assistants (PAs) are registered with the pharmacy regulator, the Pharmaceutical Society of Ireland (PSI). Under section 30(1) of the Pharmacy Act 2007 (the Act) PAs may perform the same functions as a pharmacist, in the temporary absence of a pharmacist, with the exception of functions that are restricted to pharmacists under specific medicines legislation, such as vaccination services. Since 1994, the provisions of “temporary absence” have been understood with reference to a Code of Practice agreed that year between the PSI and the Pharmaceutical Assistants’ Association (PAA).

Section 30(2) of the Pharmacy Act 2007 provides that the PSI Council may make Rules, with the consent of the Minister, to provide further as to what constitutes the temporary absence of a registered pharmacist and what may or may not be done by a PA when acting on behalf of a pharmacist. In 2013, the PSI Council directed that a policy position be developed to enable and facilitate the drafting of rules relating to the circumstances in which a registered PA may act in the temporary absence of a registered pharmacist in line with the requirements of Section 30(2) of the Act. The PSI Registration and Qualification Recognition Committee (RQR) was assigned responsibility to progress this work. A Pharmaceutical Assistant was sought to join this Committee and was appointed by the PSI Council in March 2014.

The PSI developed the draft Pharmaceutical Society of Ireland (Regulation of Temporary Absence Cover by Pharmaceutical Assistants) Rules 2016 following debate and engagement with interested parties including the Pharmaceutical Assistants Association (PAA). The draft Rules were issued for public consultation on 8 February 2016. Following discussion at the PSI Council meeting of 23 March 2017, and taking account of the responses received through the consultation process, the Council decided not to submit the draft Rules to me for approval. The Council instead directed that the matter be re-examined by the PSI Executive with further consideration to be given to what could be covered within the scope of the Rules. In making its decision at this meeting the Council confirmed that the current approach to regulating temporary absence by PSI inspection staff under the 1994 Code of Practice would continue to apply pending the future adoption of statutory Rules.

A working group consisting of 6 persons (two Council members, two PSI staff members, and two external participants – a Pharmaceutical Assistant and a person with regulatory and risk expertise) was then established to provide expertise, advice and input to assist in developing policy options and drafting rules. To date this group has met three times, and I understand the group will recommend a position to the Council in the coming months.


First Qualified Assistant invited to address council in 126 years!

“As Registrar,President and Council members you will go down in history as a group who brought about the demise of a group of elderly mainly women graduates of your own formulated, validated and examined qualification. We are not seeking anymore than
the terms we qualified under on the day we qualified.
I hope I have done some justice to all my fellow colleagues, a fantastic, committed, loyal, dependable ,professional group . What a loss you would all be to the Profession of Pharmacy.”

PAA Presentation to PSI Council March 2017

Please click on above link to view full text of presentation

Narrowing of the factual parameters pertaining to the practice of PAs by prescriptive measures has the effect of interfering with an established right to practice which attracts constitutional protection as both a personal and property right. Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission Guiding Principles on Proportionality apply here. See Notes and PAA Submission. Concept of temp abs has an established meaning since 1890 Act. It is synonymous with not permanent i.e we cannot conduct a business on our own
accord. It is related to context and depends on the facts of a particular situation. Three factors are relevant
• intention;
• length of your absence; and
• reason for absence.

For example, in defining the temporary absence of the Taoiseach, the High Court found that here the phrase “temporary absence of the Taoiseach” was used, should be interpreted as the temporary absence from the ability to perform his duties during illness or incapacity or while incommunicado for an appreciable time
With regard to interpretation of temporary absence under the 1890 Act, I’m sure you are all aware of the judgement of High Court Judge Costello, where he maintained that t.a could at that time be only defined by a court, on a case by case basis. In the 1980s temporary absence had in practice many variations from days off, holiday cover, maternity cover etc. When we collected our certificates from the PSI office it was pointed out to us that there were notices from pharmacists looking for holiday cover.
(See handouts of assurances given over the years by T.Ds etc)
Pharmacists are entitled to be heard as individuals, if they breach Fitness to Practice Regulations and there is a very strict structure around sanctions etc
You are proposing to introduce a form of blanket definition on the Fitness to Practice of all P.As by stating we are fit to practice for x number of hours but not Fit to Practice again that week and one minute after the allotted time we become criminals. This sanction is based solely on the fact that we hold a qualification, with a legally held term since 1890, the value of which our employability and status depends. We qualified with your formulated and validated programme which incidentally we paid the PSI to undertake. Do you not believe that your certification is sufficiently robust?
P.As undertook this course in good faith and had a natural expectation to a career pathway and earning capacity. The measures you propose will reduce our employment prospects, our earning capacity and our status within the profession and the wider community.
The danger in legislating in exact terms, will prove extremely difficult. It does not take into account real life situations. 3 personal examples but all Pas could cite thousands of examples and instances where it
cannot work.
Pharmacist whose husband had to be rushed by ambulance at 8am,had a perforated gut and was in intensive care isolation for a few days. I was called to open the pharmacy and continue the business until the crisis was solved. Between myself and the other non supervising pharmacist we provided cover. Another instance was of another person I worked for whose father was dying. I got a call at 9pm to know if I could possibly work to allow that woman to be with her dad while he was dying.
Another situation was when I worked for one of your predecessors on Council a Fellow of the PSI. I worked for him allowing him to attend meetings and have days off. I got an urgent call to say his son was in an accident would I go straight to the pharmacy. His son had actually drowned.
What would my position be if you implement these rules and I have used up my time that week? Am I the criminal or is it the Pharmacist?
Where did you pluck a figure of 12 hours? Could you have chosen the 35 hour recommendation of a full working week as specified legally for employees? Where can you prove the difference between each of these figures in achieving your ultimate aim?
Ours is not a profession like for example an office job. We cannot tell the patient that we can only dispense 2 items off their prescription and will have to leave the rest because we have used up our allotted time
Has the PSI considered the Irish Human Rights and Equality Act 2014 section 42 and its obligation to eliminate discrimination and promote equality of opportunity? Have you equality proofed and human rights proofed your SI draft?
Our job is our property and if this proposal leads to the reduction or elimination of our employability we are left at our age with very little prospects.
The employment agencies have been advised not to handle us due to the uncertainty around “temporary absence” and what role we have within pharmacy.
Some of the chains have a policy of not employing us or are making life very difficult for those whom they do employ.
We hope you will carefully consider the content of this presentation. We assure you that we will go to the nth degree to protect our status.
It is very difficult in a 30 minute presentation to include a lifetime career and the intimidation and low self worth we have been subjected to by the PSI around the conflicting views of our entitlements, almost since we qualified.
Should you enact this into law it is the demise of our career. Are we left with any other option but to use our considerable funds and support to go before the legal structures?
Why do you in 2017 after 127 years of service to the industry feel we are now a danger and need to bring in measures to bring about our demise, leaving us with no option but to take this final stand in light of how we have been treated over the years for example
i) The PSI would not go in to the court in the 80s to have temporary absence defined by a judge.
ii) The PSI took no action to upgrade our qualification, yet this was not a problem for druggists.
i) The PSI did nothing to map our qualification to the Educational Framework, resulting in PAs not being able to use their qualification in the educational forum, thus requiring them to start from the beginning any educational or training course. .
ii) The PSI did not notify all PAs of this proposal.
iii) The PSI executive have always maintained they are bound by the Code, we disagree and have suggested that under Section 5 it is only bound on legally binding agreements which the Code is not. In 1994, I voted against the proposal but the vast majority of non members had no vote that time either.
Only pharmacists were balloted nationwide.
iv) All avenues you have closed. This is more like Feudal Ireland than a modern inclusive society . International best practice in education and under the terms of the Bologna agreement is to lift the glass ceiling and allow progression of all careers. Where are you displaying evidence of this as providers of our course?
v) The profession of pharmacy is broadly against this proposal. They do express concern that one professional might be responsible for the actions of another but our legal advice has always been that it would be difficult to prove vicarious liability of one professional for another particularly if robust S.O.Ps are in place.
I plead with you each member of this Council to consider very carefully the decision you make. Produce an overwhelming argument of public safety issues that we can consider.
As Registrar,President and Council members you will go down in history as a group who brought about the demise of a group of elderly mainly women graduates of your own formulated, validated and examined qualification. We are not seeking anymore than
the terms we qualified under on the day we qualified.
I hope I have done some justice to all my fellow colleagues, a fantastic, committed, loyal, dependable ,professional group . What a loss you would all be to the Profession of Pharmacy.

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The content on this website is for information purposes only. It is not intended to be construed as legal advice.
Opinions expressed on this website are not necessarily those of the PAA committee.