Published on: 21st May 2024 | Updated on: 22nd May 2024


At the end of 2023, the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) opened a consultation on proposals to update legislation, Medicines Act 1968 and Human Medicines Regulations 2012, around the supervision of activities by a pharmacist in a pharmacy.

Within the consultation, the two proposals concerning community pharmacy, both subject to appropriate pharmacist authorisation, are:

  1. Pharmacy technicians dispensing and supplying medicines, or supervising others doing so – primarily to give pharmacists more time to do other clinical work; and
  2. Pharmacy team members handing out (i.e. supplying) bagged and dispensed medicines to patients or their representatives at the pharmacy premises, in the absence of a pharmacist – for example, to allow collection of dispensed medicines when the supervising pharmacist is on a lunch break.

These proposals, if implemented, will bring significant changes to pharmacist supervision of the dispensing process.

Our Response

Community Pharmacy England, which includes representatives of the CCA and NPA and those with AIM membership, considered the proposals and submitted a full response to the consultation.

Broadly, our response supports the proposals, seeking amendments to the drafting of the proposed legislation to ensure the new provisions, if implemented, can be used in practice.

Perhaps unusually for a consultation on supervision, there is no proposal to change the interpretation of supervision. However, the consultation provides helpful clarification of its current interpretation, based on 2005 professional guidance which includes:

  • in the case of a POM or P supply of a dispensed medicine:
    • as regards the ‘awareness’ requirement, the pharmacist will be aware of the supply (having done the earlier checks), but will not be aware of the actual supply at the moment to supply
    • the ‘in a position to intervene’ requirement is met by the pharmacist being on the premises and interruptible, and procedures or protocols ensuring that the supply will not ahead if the threshold for a pharmacist’s intervention is met but the pharmacist was not interrupted

In addition, the DHSC consultation document indicates that professional guidance can develop the interpretation of supervision, within the limits of the existing court decisions, and the Royal Pharmaceutical Society has committed to reviewing its guidance. There is, therefore, scope for new guidance to develop the interpretation of supervision further and recognise current good dispensing practice involving the use of, for example, robotic and automated dispensing systems.

In relation to proposal 2, we have said this should enable automated locker boxes to be located on pharmacy premises, which would mean safe storage of medicines on pharmacy premises, greater in person accessibility of pharmacist advice and less potential for the market entry controls to be undermined.

Pharmacy Supervision Group

The Pharmacy Supervision Practice Group has published a report that makes recommendations to reframe legislation, regulation and professional standards and guidance around the future of supervision in community pharmacy.

The group includes organisations from across the community pharmacy sector, with members from the Company Chemists’ Association (CCA), the National Pharmacy Association (NPA), the Association of Independent Multiple Pharmacies (AIM), the Pharmacists’ Defence Association (PDA), the Association of Pharmacy Technicians UK (APTUK), the Pharmacy Forum Northern Ireland (PFNI) and the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS).

The report informed the General Pharmaceutical Council’s (GPhC’s) consideration of the rules and/or standards for responsible pharmacists and standards for superintendent pharmacists that will follow this consultation.

Our news article provides more information about the report.

For more information on this topic please email

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