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Pharmacy (Preparation and Dispensing Errors – Registered Pharmacies) Order 2018 laid in Parliament

Published: 18th November 2017


The Dispensing Errors (Registered Pharmacies) Order that gives a legal defence from criminal sanctions for pharmacy professions, pharmacists and pharmacy technicians, and staff who make a single inadvertent dispensing error has been laid before the Westminster Parliament.


The next steps for the draft order is that it will now be debated in the House of Commons and the House of Lords after which it will be signed by the Privy Council before coming into force next year. 


Ken Jarrold, Chair of the Rebalancing Medicines Legislation and Pharmacy Regulation Programme Board, said,


“I am delighted that the Dispensing Errors (Registered Pharmacies) Order has been laid before the Westminster Parliament.  This order aligns pharmacy professionals with other health professions and supports increased reporting of errors, without the fear of prosecution.  Pharmacy Professionals now need to play their part in improving the reporting of errors and maximising learning to improve patient safety and the quality of service.”


“I look forward to the introduction of proposals that put in place similar measures for hospitals and other specified pharmacy settings, and a separate order to clarify the roles of the superintendent pharmacist and responsible pharmacist, which are essential elements to the organisational governance framework in pharmacy.”


APTUK President Tess Fenn, responding to the news, said:



“APTUK very much welcomes this news that the draft order, to remove the criminal liability for single inadvertent dispensing errors in registered pharmacies, has been laid in Parliament. We now look forward to this coming into force in the New Year. APTUK are continuing to work with the Rebalancing Board to ensure a similar defence is in place for pharmacy professionals working in hospitals and other pharmacy settings.

Alongside the order, APTUK are committed to supporting pharmacy technicians in sharing their learning from dispensing errors and near misses and emphasise the importance of reporting to improve patient safety. Our members and all pharmacy technicians are encouraged to utilise the ‘Professional standards for the reporting, learning, sharing, taking action and review of incidents’ that were published in November 2016.”



Excellent resources to help improve patient safety are provided by the Community Pharmacy Patient Safety Group and are available here




Report: report all errors and near misses and involve the whole team

Learn: Identify and investigate causes of error and use them as learning opportunities

ACT: make changes to practice

Share: discuss with others and promote learning

Review: review changes to practice




More information about the Pharmacy (Preparation and Dispensing Errors – Registered Pharmacies) Order 2018 and the work of the Balancing Programme Board can be found here