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UK Government consults on decriminalising dispensing errors in hospitals

The UK’s Government is consulting on proposals to decriminalise dispensing errors for hospital pharmacists and technicians, it has announced.

The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) today (19 June) published a consultation on whether it should provide a legal defence for inadvertent dispensing errors for hospital pharmacists following the passing of a similar law protecting community pharmacists in April.

The move was welcomed by pharmacy organisations.

Chief executive of UK pharmacy regulator the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) Duncan Rudkin said: “It is important that defences for dispensing errors are extended to pharmacists and pharmacy technicians working in hospitals and other specified settings at the earliest possible opportunity, and the launch of the consultation is a step towards that.

“This UK-wide consultation includes a number of significant proposals. We would encourage all those working across the pharmacy sector, as well as patients and the public, to take part in the consultation and help shape the final legislation.”

President of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) Ash Soni said: “The RPS has continued calling on the Government to introduce these vital changes…which should help to put the whole profession on an equal footing.

“The Government must now ensure that these changes will work in practice to reduce the fear of prosecution, encouraging a culture where people feel able to report errors and learn from mistakes to improve patient safety.”

The DHSC will analyse the consultation responses and publish a response within 12 weeks of its closing date on 11 September, it said.

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