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Inadvertent dispensing errors legislation approved by the Houses of Parliament

Published: 12th December 2017



The House of Commons and the House of Lords have agreed Draft Pharmacy (Preparation and Dispensing Errors – Registered Pharmacies) Order 2018. The support of both Houses paves the way for the Order to be sent to the Privy Council for signature and publication.  The expectation is for the Order to come into effect in the New Year.


The Association of Pharmacy Technicians UK welcomes this positive news that introduces new defences to the criminal offences relating to inadvertent preparation or dispensing errors by registered pharmacy professionals acting in the course of their profession.


The long awaited legislation will be introduced UK wide and will provide the defence for work carried out in registered pharmacies.


The Department of Health, is working with the Health Departments in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, to develop similar measures for hospitals and other specified pharmacy settings (e.g. pharmacy services for prisons and care home), and plans to consult on draft proposals in the New Year. This aims to ensure that pharmacy professionals working in other settings, such as hospitals (where the pharmacy is not registered), can make use of this defence.


Tess Fenn, President of APTUK, said:


“This is extremely positive news for pharmacy professionals, both pharmacy technicians and pharmacists, and is most welcomed after many years of hard work by the professional and the Rebalancing Programme Board.


This is a vital landmark in the passage of the legislation anticipated to come into effect in 2018. We now need to build upon the defences offered to improve reporting of dispensing errors and near misses, so that we can share and learn together to increase and improve patient safety.


We will be continuing our work towards seeing similar proposals for pharmacy technicians working in hospitals and other pharmacy settings.”