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


Due to recent developments, the PAA will hold an E.G.M. on Sunday, July 8th at the Aisling Hotel, Parkgate Street, Dublin 8. Registration: 1.30pm. Meeting: 2-5pm. New members will be very welcome. Please note that voting will be restricted to paid up members. Annual membership fee is 60 euro. See you there!

JUNE 2018
Working Group Report on Temporary Absence

“A Working Group was then established to examine and produce a report, which was submitted to Council on the 17 May 2018. The considerations of the group were centered on patient safety, public protection and risk, and how long a pharmacist can be absent from a pharmacy, in order to inform policy position to allow the development of rules.
The Council considered the matter and accepted the Working Group report and its recommendations. It was agreed to proceed with developing draft rules under section 30 of the Act, based on this proposed policy. The rules will be considered at the 21 June 2018 Council meeting and a public consultation will take place on these rules over the summer.”

Temporary Absence Consultation Report 2017

“By virtue of the fact that the Qualification ceased in 1985 we now have a limited number of Pharmaceutical Assistants who fall into the category and to now redefine their competence and ability is morally wrong.” Submission no 209 .”

*Submission No 142.
We write to you as members of the public and customers of a Pharmacy that employs a Pharmaceutical Assistant (PA) and wish to express in the strongest possible manner our objection to the proposed definition of “Temporary Absence”
Some points we wish to make in support of our objection are:
(i) TYPICAL TEMPORARY ABSENCE REASONS are Annual Leave, Illness, Lunch Breaks etc. Restricting the definition to 12 hours per week effectively reduces the cover to Lunch Breaks Only.
(ii) IMPACT ON EMPLOYMENT: Many Pharmacies, in particular family/sole trader practices employ PA’s because in addition to their professionalism they can provide temporary cover for reasonable absences. This change would immediately change their employment prospects.
(iii) IMPACT ON EARNINGS AND PENSIONS: The proposed change is likely to impact pay scales and will have an immediate impact on Pension Contributions (due to probable unemployment/salary reduction). As the last Graduates were in the mid 1980’s most PA’s will be entering the final 10 to 15 years of their working career and this will have a very significant impact on current pay and retirement income.
(iv) IMPACT ON SMALL AND RURAL PRACTICES: While many pharmacies have changed into large retail stores and chains there are still a lot of “pure pharmacies” that this change is likely to force out of business and leave rural areas without a pharmacy.
(v) CHANGE TO EMPLOYMENT T&C’S AFTER 30 YEARS: How can the PSI stand over a decision to change the term & conditions of employment of a Professional Member more than 30 years after qualification and after accepting membership fees over the time.
(vi) PUBLIC PERCEPTION OF PA’S PROFESSIONALISM: This proposal suggests to the public that the PA’s are in some way unqualified to dispense, our experience is that nothing could be further from truth, indeed we have moved pharmacy in the past when the PA had changed employers. The PA’s have built up a very strong relationship with their customers over the past 30+ years.
If after 30+ years the Pharmaceutical Society of Ireland now deem the PA’s to be unsuitable/unqualified to cover annual leave etc it reflects very badly on you as a Professional Society.
In conclusion your invitation to a Public Consultation refers to:
“The purpose of these rules is to provide for a fair and workable model for the definition of “temporary absence”, which also provides public assurance of safe pharmacy practice and patient safety”
As we have outlined above the proposals are far from Fair & Workable and the proposed changes are more likely to raise questions over patient safety in the past than provide assurance into the future.
We trust you will take our submission on board and withdraw the present proposal.*

Did you know?

The qualification of Pharmaceutical Assistants was formulated, validated and examined by the Pharmaceutical Society of Ireland and entitled those who passed the exam to “to transact the business of a licentiate of the Pharmaceutical Society in his temporary absence but shall not be entitled to conduct or manage a business or to keep open shop on their own account”. (Pharmacy Act, (Ireland) Amendment Act 1890)
This is the context within which pharmaceutical assistants have worked for the past 126 years. The training course for pharmaceutical assistants ceased in 1979, with the last examination in 1984. There are now just 393 qualified pharmaceutical assistants on the PSI register, all of whom are over 50 and 99% women.
Since 1890 ‘Temporary absence’ clause has been open to a wide range of interpretations. Custom and practice of many of our colleagues highlight how it varies from holiday cover of any pharmacist to weekly days off, late night opening, sick leave, maternity cover, unscheduled short absences and the myriad of situations that can occur in life.
The Council of the PSI now wish to use their powers under the 2007 Pharmacy Act to legally define ‘temporary absence’ in concrete terms, which effectively results in the extinction of our profession and an excessive interference with the vested rights of PAs to work and earn a livingImportant Points:
• Equality and Non-Discrimination – Article 14 of the European Convention on Human Rights explicitly prohibits discrimination. This means that everyone is entitled to the equal enjoyment of all of the rights in the ECHR. Given that pharmaceutical assistants (PA’s) are predominantly female and that part-time workers within the profession are predominantly female, any attempt to impose minimum hours of service as part of the qualification of the conditions of exercise of the profession will have a far greater impact on women, violating the equality rights guarantee in the Constitution and under ECHR.• When PA’s completed the relevant academic and apprenticeship requirements and passed the examinations of the PSI could be registered, they had a reasonable expectation of their career path and economic benefits. The PSI should not be allowed ‘change the goal posts’ over 30 years later, particular as they are not offering any opportunity to upgrade.
• Narrowing the factual parameters pertaining to the practice of qualified pharmaceutical assistants by prescriptive measures has the effect of interfering with an established right to practice on the part of the PA which attracts constitutional protection as both a personal and property right (Articles 40.3 and/or 43)
• Many PAs have worked in the same pharmacy for over 20 or 30 years, and no account is taken of the knowledge, experiences and customer relationships built up over those years. The PA knows the customers, they trust the qualifed pharmaceutical assistant who has provided them with a service over the years. This is crucial to patient safety
PSI see it safe pharmacy practice as making the pharmacist bring in a locum with minimum experience and no knowledge of customers and business to cover ‘temporary absence’, rather than leaving the qualified pharmaceutical assistant cover an hour over 12 hours.
• Are Health and Safety concerns being addressed where there is no requirement for CPD or Fitness to Practice?
• The concept of “temporary absence” has an established meaning in terms of pharmacy practice since 1890. It is synonymous with “not permanent”, i.e. not conduct business on own accord etc (as outlined on certificate of qualification). It is related to context and depends on the facts of a particular situation.
• Defining ‘temporary absence’ in concrete terms , exact hours etc lacks logic or knowledge of the real world. It will become an offence if a PA works for one minute outside the hours defined. This does not allow for normal life challenges e.g sickness ,funerals, traffic delays and a whole myriad of problems that occur on a daily basis.

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 March 2017

Please click on above link to view full text of presentation

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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.