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The long awaited New Dispensing Errors Legislation comes into force

Published: 18th April 2018

The 16th of April 2018 marks the commencement of The Pharmacy (Preparation and Dispensing Errors – Registered Pharmacies) Order 2018. This marks a major step forward for pharmacy professionals, and APTUK hope that this new legislation will lead to greater reporting and learning from errors, further enhancing the care that pharmacy professionals provide.

This legislation change is the result of the work of the "Rebalancing Programme Board". Tess Fenn, APTUK President and Programme Board member, said of the new legislation

"APTUK welcome this news and this is a major step forward for pharmacy technicians working in registered pharmacies alongside their pharmacy professional colleagues. The hard work, over several years, of the programme board, working with the pharmacy profession, on this specific legislation, has brought this legislation to fruition. I am encouraged that this will provide assurance that honest and inadvertent dispensing mistakes made by pharmacy technicians will no longer be the object of possible automatic prosecution. I welcome that this goes towards taking away the fear and will lead to greater patient safety through the profession sharing and learning from mistakes and importantly from near misses. One way we will be supporting this learning is through developing our new regular pharmacy technician journal column dedicated to addressing patient safety issues”.

This change in the law provides a new defence against two of the offenses outlined in the Medicines Act 1968 (relating to dispensing errors). The offenses still exist, but providing that certain conditions are met (outlined in the FAQ from the Department of Health and Social Care) the new legislation offers a complete defence.

To view the FAQs click here

At present, this change in the legislation only protects those working in registered pharmacy premises- which will not cover all of our members. The rebalancing programme board has plans to consult shortly on further legislation which will widen the defence to other areas such as unregistered hospital pharmacies, prisons and care homes.

We would advise members to read the attached document from the Department of Health and Social Care to gain a greater understanding of the current situation and what this new Order achieves.


APTUK hopes that this new legislation will increase the reporting, learning and sharing from errors in pharmacies. The World Health Organisation's "Medication Without Harm" patient safety challenge is at the forefront of member's minds and this can only help us strive for better, safer patient centred care.