The PSI recently launched a revised Code of Conduct and encouraged pharmacists to ‘take pride’ in the Code

On World Pharmacists Day 2019, the Pharmaceutical Society of Ireland (PSI), the pharmacy regulator, launched a revised statutory Code of Conduct (www.thepsi.ie/gns/Pharmacy_Practice/code-of-conduct.aspx), which sets out the ethical standards that all pharmacists practising in Ireland must meet. An extensive consultation process formed part of the substantial review of the pre-existing Code, which had been in place since 2009. The result is a distinctly patient-centred revision that addresses developments in the delivery of healthcare over the past decade, according to the Society. It said the Code is aimed at supporting pharmacists in their current and future professional practice, and to ensure that pharmacists provide the best possible health outcomes for their patients. The new Code of Conduct came into effect on 21 October 2019.

As with its predecessor, the revised Code of Conduct — Professional Principles, Standards and Ethics for Pharmacists focuses on ensuring that all pharmacists practise in a way that maintains and improves the health, wellbeing, care and safety of patients. It provides seven key principles that are centred on professionalism and care, such as effective communication; upholding public trust and confidence in the profession; maintaining competence, as well as the importance of collaboration with patients and other healthcare professionals. 

It sets the standards for good professional practice, said the PSI. In the event of a finding of serious misconduct for a breach of the code, the Council of the PSI can impose sanctions, which include the suspension or cancellation of a pharmacist’s registration to practice. 

Speaking at the launch, Mr Niall Byrne, Registrar and Chief Officer, PSI, encouraged every pharmacist to familiarise themselves with the Code, including the professional responsibilities which it sets out and the ethical standards that the public, patients and other healthcare professionals expect from pharmacists. Mr Byrne said: ”What was clear to the PSI from our engagement during this review is that there is a desire among professionals and the wider public that healthcare is ethically-led. Pharmacists offer unique expertise in the area of medicines, the most common intervention in resolving people’s health issues, and that is an area of professional practice that is evolving, challenging and complex. The Code of Conduct is a public declaration of the high degree of trust which people should be able to have in the care they receive in a pharmacy and from pharmacists. 

“With over two million visits made by the public to pharmacies every month, maintaining that professional trust is vital and requires pharmacists to display full technical competence in their chosen profession, but also to behave with probity and integrity and to be accountable for their actions or omissions. I hope that this revised Code is something pharmacists can take pride in as they demonstrate their commitment in their day-to-day practice to professional, patient-centred care.“ 

The PSI stated that the Code of Conduct is mandated under legislation and Minister for Health Simon Harris gave his consent for the revised Code during the summer. The Minister stated: “Pharmacists play a key role in delivering healthcare in our communities. The manner in which they practise their profession has a direct effect on the patient experience and on patient safety outcomes. The principles in this Code are fully patient-centred, placing an emphasis on communication, professional competence and care. It is particularly welcome that the new Code reflects changes that have taken place in our health service and in our society, and that it will support pharmacists as they play their part in helping build a more integrated healthcare system, in keeping with the recommendations of the Sláintecare Report.”

More information

The PSI has said it is hosting a series of information meetings across the country for pharmacists to coincide with the roll-out of the Code. Full details, including dates and venues, as well as the revised Code of Conduct and other resources, are available on the PSI’s website, www.thepsi.ie.