The Pharmaceutical Society of Ireland (“PSI”) recently published its Annual Report for 2017. The PSI is the statutory body tasked with the regulation of pharmacists and retail pharmacies in Ireland.

The role of the PSI includes management of complaints received in respect of both pharmacists and pharmacies. It also maintains the register of pharmacists and pharmacies in Ireland, and all pharmacists/pharmacies must be registered with the PSI.

Number of Complaints Received

The report confirms that 46 complaints were processed by the PSI in 2017. This figure represents a very slight increase on the number of complaints received the previous year, 2016, when 42 complaints were received. However, compared to 2015 when 27 complaints were received, this is a significant increase.

Types of Complaints

The majority of complaints received related to alleged dispensing errors, where the incorrect dose of a medication was supplied to a patient, and pharmacy practice issues. A further 6 complaints related to the dispensing of medications without a valid prescription. The report confirms that 3 complaints related to a breach of conditions attached to a pharmacist’s registration by the High Court. A further 2 complaints related to impairment of pharmacists due to health related issues.

Sources of Complaints

63% of the complaints received were made by members of the public. 19% of the complaints were made the Registrar of the PSI, with a further 18% divided equally between pharmacists and other health professionals.

Inquiries and Sanctions

13 fitness to practise Inquiries were conducted in 2017. The Health Committee heard 5 of these Inquiries and 8 were heard before the Professional Conduct Committee. A variety of sanctions were imposed by the Council following these Inquiries, including:

  • Four adminishments/censures;
  • Attachment of conditions to the registration of one pharmacist; and
  • Cancellation of the registration of two pharmacists.

In two Inquiries, the Committee accepted undertakings from the pharmacists involved.

One complaint was dealt with through mediation in 2017, resulting in the pharmacist involved consenting to be censured by the Council of the PSI and undertaking to comply with a monitoring and mentoring progranmme.

16 new complaints were referred forward for Inquiry before the Professional Conduct Committee or Health Committee in 2017, following consideration by a screening committee, the Preliminary Proceedings Committee (“PPC”).

Prosecutions

The report confirms that in 2017 two prosecutions were brought in the District Court by the PSI for multiple breaches of pharmacy legislation. In both cases, the pharmacy involved was convicted and was the subject of a fine.

Inquiries and Sanctions

An additional 346 pharmacists joined the register of pharmacists in 2017, bringing the total number of pharmacists registered to practise in Ireland to over 6,000, compared to 5,645 at the end of 2015. Interestingly, the report indicates that 78% of pharmacists on the register who are the age of 25 or under are female.

Roll-Out of Pharmacy Assessment System

In 2017, the PSI rolled out a new system of assessing and monitoring standards in pharmacies. The pharmacy assessment system is described in the report as a self-audit tool for ongoing use by pharmacies in assessing the quality of their own services. PSI staff members made 1,826 advisory visits to pharmacies during 2017 to provide advice on implementation of the new assessment system. 90% of pharmacies have now commenced use of the new assessment system. In addition to this, in 2017 208 pharmacy inspections were conducted by the PSI Inspection and Enforcement team.

Corporate Strategy 2018-2020

In 2017 the PSI also launched its next corporate strategy to 2020, which states that the PSI’s mission is to “protect and promote the health, safety and wellbeing of patients and the public by taking timely and effective action to ensure that pharmacists in Ireland are competent and that pharmacies are operating to high standards of safety and reliability”.