PSI, the pharmacy regulator, has published its annual report, which highlights its key activities and achievements during the year.
These included extensive activity in the areas of registration, inspection of pharmacies, investigations, practice development as well as the handling of 46 complaints about registered pharmacists and pharmacies. Over two million visits are made to pharmacies every month by the public, making pharmacists the most accessed healthcare professionals in Ireland.
The PSI regulates the professional practice of over 6,000 pharmacists, 362 pharmaceutical assistants and 1,930 pharmacies. During the last year, there was a net increase of 346 registered pharmacists and 25 pharmacies.
The PSI carried out 310 pharmacy inspections to assess whether pharmacies are providing safe and appropriate care to people using them. As part of its continued development of how it regulates pharmacy businesses, it also rolled out a new pharmacy assessment system, a self-audit tool for ongoing use by pharmacies in assessing the quality of their own services.
In support of its adoption in pharmacies, PSI regulatory staff made 1,826 advisory visits to pharmacies during the year. The majority of pharmacists who were implementing the system (79%) were positive about its benefits, saying it had already helped them identify areas for improvement.
Niall Byrne, Registrar and Chief Officer of the PSI, said that the summary of activities contained in the report reflects the extensive work undertaken by the regulatory body during the year to meet its commitment to patient safety and to upholding public trust in the quality of pharmacy services.
“The public places significant expectations on pharmacists, who play an important role in public health and patient care. In addition to their widespread availability across the country, the profession is highly trusted. The PSI’s core objective is to play our part in maintaining that trust through a robust and effective regulatory system,” he said.
The majority of the 46 formal complaints related to alleged dispensing errors and pharmacy practice issues and came from patients. Over 100 concerns were also received from the public and each was assessed for risk to patient safety. Of these, 14 were later referred into the PSI’s formal complaints process.
While the number of matters raised with the PSI about pharmacists or pharmacies was relatively low, Niall Byrne said there cannot be room for complacency when it comes to the competence of individual pharmacists or the safety and quality of pharmacy services.
“The PSI believes in building a collaborative approach to the effective and appropriate delivery of pharmacy services, where all stakeholders play their role. Pharmacists, particularly those with governance responsibilities, and pharmacy owners, have a clear duty of care to their patients and to the wider public.
“By working together, the regulator and the profession can continue to build a stronger culture of patient safety and thereby ensure that future patient needs are met through the availability of competent and capable pharmacists working within well-governed and safe pharmacy services.”