Dispensing error defence laid before parliament

The Dispensing Errors (Registered Pharmacies) Order has now been laid in parliament.

The legal defence from criminal sanctions for pharmacists and staff who make an inadvertent dispensing error brings the profession in line with other healthcare professionals.

The long awaited move was welcomed by the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC). In response its chief executive, Duncan Rudkin commented: “Openness and honesty when things go wrong is a core part of the standards for pharmacy professionals. This change in legislation will remove a barrier to improved reporting and learning from errors and we are pleased to see continuing progress towards changing this legislation.

“We look forward to a governmental consultation next year on removing the threat of criminal sanctions for dispensing errors made by pharmacists working in settings other than registered pharmacies. We have consistently been clear that single dispensing errors do not in our view constitute a fitness to practise concern, if there is not a wider pattern of errors or significant aggravating factors.”

Pharmacy minister Steve Brine posted on Twitter: “Staying true to my word at [the Royal Pharmaceutical Society Conference,] new legislation was laid that will help pharmacy professionals better identify dispensing errors and safeguard them from prosecution.” 


John D’Arcy, managing director, Numark, was delighted by the news. “This has been a long time coming but is much needed to remove a significant practice burden from pharmacists and their teams created by an anachronistic legal provision.

"The change in the law recognises that pharmacists are human and puts them on an equal footing with other healthcare professionals.”

The laid Order can be found on the government legislation website here

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