Community Pharmacy

Two pharmacists consulting computer display

Supervision in Community Pharmacy

Principal investigator: Dr Ellen Schafheutle

Co-investigators: Dr Sarah Willis, Dr Fay Bradley & Prof Peter Noyce – School of Pharmacy & Pharmaceutical Sciences, the University of Manchester

What we want to find out?

This study aims to investigate how pharmacist supervision currently works in community pharmacy, which other types of staff pharmacists work with, and what their roles are, i.e. what activities they do. We also aim to find out how various people view potential changes to supervision requirements (i.e. the pharmacist having to be present or not), and how they perceive risk levels associated with different types of pharmacy activities and services.

Background: What is supervision in pharmacy?

MANCHESTER LOGOCommunity pharmacies are there to ensure that medicines are effectively and safely dispensed and appropriate advice is given on their use. There is surprising diversity in the operation of community pharmacies internationally. In some countries, all pharmaceutical services are undertaken or closely supervised by the pharmacist in charge (therefore requiring the pharmacist to be on the premises all or most of the time, which is the current situation in the UK) and in others there is much more flexibility in pharmacists exercising their responsibility. This has implications for the pharmacy workforce and skill mix, and the organisation and training of non-pharmacist support staff to deliver community pharmacy services, particularly if pharmacists are to use their clinical skills and expertise more widely. However, little is known about which kinds of pharmacy activities and services may safely be undertaken by pharmacy support staff when a pharmacist is not on the pharmacy premises.

How are we investigating supervision in pharmacy?

In the first stage of this project, we interviewed six superintendent pharmacists (they take responsibility for the pharmaceutical aspects in larger ‘chain’ pharmacies). We also organised four group discussions (using a technique called ‘nominal group’) and brought together pharmacists and pharmacy support staff working in community and hospital pharmacy. Group participants were asked to identify and then rank the types of activities which they felt could, or could not, be safely performed when the pharmacist was not there. Participants also explained their rankings.

Second stage: Whilst these discussions provide us with detailed insights into people’s views, we do not know whether other pharmacists and pharmacy support staff feel the same way. This requires responses from much larger numbers, so we designed a questionnaire (using what we found in the group discussions) and sent this to 1,500 pharmacists and 1,500 pharmacy technicians in England.

How will we let people know about what we find out?

Medicines and pharmacy legislation (including supervision) in the UK is under review and we would anticipate our findings to feed into this Department of Health and MHRA consultation. A detailed report of our findings will be published on the Pharmacy Research UK website. We will also present our findings at conferences and in academic journals, and we will share our findings as widely as possible with the pharmacy profession, for example by publishing an article in the Pharmaceutical Journal.