‘Professional obligation’ for automation: UK chief

Mark Burdon

“Hub and spoke” dispensing is safer than the traditional pharmacy approach, England’s chief pharmaceutical officer says.

The Pharmaceutical Journal reports that Keith Ridge, in giving evidence to the All-Party Pharmacy Group’s inquiry into primary and community care, says that error rates are lower in the hub-and-spoke model and that pharmacists have a professional obligation to use automated dispensing processes.

He said the error rate in traditional community pharmacy is around 3%, but “in other countries, that rate is much lower: you need several zeros before the decimal place. It is so much safer. At that point it becomes a professional obligation to use those systems”.

However Gareth Jones, public affairs manager at the National Pharmacy Association, later told the Journal that Ridge’s statements were “highly questionable”.

“We suspect the chief pharmaceutical officer is not comparing like with like. He should publish the evidence to back up the claim he made to MPs about error rates, or retract his comments,” Jones told the Journal.

The UK Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee’s Mark Burdon, presenting the Alan Russell Oration with the National Pharmacy Association’s Ian Strachan at APP2016 over the weekend, says there are problems with the hub and spoke model, including the push to dispense medicines less frequently.

Burdon said the chief pharmaceutical officer has a personal obsession with automation and that the spoke of the system – the community pharmacy – is a vital part of community health provision that cannot be excluded from the system.

Around 1000 to 3000 UK pharmacies are expected to close under funding cuts Burdon says are a move to Amazonise pharmacy.

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