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Public Consultation Report Published

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Important! Update on Proposed Draft rules:

Update 25 October 2018: A delay has arisen in the submission of the approved Rules to the Minister for his consent. This has arisen in the context of an element of the drafting framework used in the rules, and it is now required that the tasks that may be undertaken during a pharmacist’s period of temporary absence are incorporated within the Rules, rather than as envisaged under Rule 8 considered by the Council. A risk matrix was drawn up as part of the Working Group report on temporary absence, for the Council’s consideration earlier this summer. This matrix of tasks will inform the basis for a schedule to the Rules, which will address the activities that may be carried out by a pharmaceutical assistant when acting on behalf of a pharmacist, in their temporary absence.

The timeline currently envisaged is based on providing the Council with a redraft of the Rule for consideration at its meeting on 6 December. If this draft is agreed, the updated draft Rules will subsequently issue for public consultation, as is required. After that process, the Minister may anticipate receiving proposed Rules in early 2019. The proposed statutory Rules do not come into force until they are considered and signed into law by the Minister. (Courtesy PSI website, buried under “Closed Consultations”) October 2018


Rules approved by the pharmacy regulator today will result in some pharmacies having to close on Saturdays. Thursday 20 September 2018
Today the Pharmaceutical Society of Ireland Council approved rules that will restrict the work practices of pharmaceutical assistants. If the new rules are signed into law by the Minister for Health, pharmaceutical assistants will no longer be able to provide professional cover for pharmacists’ day off. “It is not possible to get locum cover so if the pharmaceutical assistant can’t cover I may have to remain closed some Saturdays…It’s fairly disastrous for pharmacy in Ireland”, a pharmacist explains in research carried out to assess the impact of the rules on pharmacy services.
The report, Human Rights and Equality Impact Assessment of the Proposed Draft Pharmaceutical Society of Ireland (Temporary Absence of Pharmacist from Pharmacy) Rules, published today, points to a reduction in the availability of pharmacy services, with 76 per cent of pharmacist respondents reporting that the implementation of the PSI Rules will make it difficult to maintain the current services.
The impact will be greatest in rural areas, as reported by this pharmacist: “My qualified assistant has worked with us for 26 years and has always been highly professional in her work keeping up with developments. She is extremely capable. We have great difficulty in obtaining pharmacist relief, as the younger pharmacist prefers an urban workplace. If my workload increased I would strongly have to consider putting my pharmacy up for sale or failing that closing which would impact on the local community especially as our local GP has recently retired and his practice is looked after by a GP practice in the nearest town which is over 20Km away”
In addition, 248 pharmaceutical assistants will be deprived of their right to earn a livelihood, having worked in pharmacies dispensing medication for customers for over 35 years. Pharmaceutical assistants like Sarah explain how “I will be out of a job. I am only 60 and state pension only available at 67…I have two children in college…it will be a financial disaster…I need my work and my money “, Marie spoke of how “I still have a mortgage so am worried about keeping my family home as I am a widow with a disabled adult living with me”.

For more information contact Deirdre Lynch, secretary of the Pharmaceutical Assistants Association (PAA) on 087 4103599.
The full report is available on the PAA website www.regpharmassist.ie; the Irish Pharmacy Union (IPU) website www.ipu.ie, the National Women’s Council of Ireland website www.nwci.ie

PAA Human Rights Impact Assessment of the PSI draft rules Report 2018

“Under Section 42 of the Irish Human Rights and Equality Act 2014, public bodies are required to screen or assess the potential impact of regulatory changes on human rights and equality of the target groups… The PSI has not quantified the impacts nor shown that the costs and operational changes are reasonable and proportionate to the actual clinical risks they are seeking to mitigate…”

August 2018
“Due to the absence of evidence-based research to justify any change to the status quo and the false premises upon which the PSI bases its proposals, the PAA submits that the Statutory Instrument should be withdrawn.”
Continue reading …

JUly 2018
The PSI have Draft Rules that set out the arrangements under which Pharmaceutical Assistants may act in the Temporary Absence of a registered Pharmacist.
They provide for what constitutes “Temporary Absence of the registered Pharmacist”. They set out rules in relation to the recording of any such periods and for notification to the public attending the pharmacy when a Registered Pharmaceutical Assistant acts in the temporary absence of a Registered Pharmacist. In addition, they provide for the approval and publication by the PSI Council of a professional task list, setting out what may or may not be done by a Registered Pharmaceutical Assistant when acting in the temporary absence of a Pharmacist.

These rules will effectively wipe out the rights of 336 Registered Pharmaceutical Assistants to earn a livelihood and will have consequences for pharmacy services throughout the country, especially in small rural areas. The PAA are calling on our pharmacy colleagues and other healthcare professionals to support them in these challenging times.

PAA Alternative Rules


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 living
Important 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.