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Pharmacy regulator launches new Corporate Strategy 2021-2023

The PSI has launched its latest Corporate Strategy, setting out the regulator’s key objectives until 2023. Developed against the backdrop of the Covid pandemic, which caused a dramatic shift in the delivery of healthcare services, including pharmacy services, the new strategy recognises the need to enhance the resilience of the sector over the coming years, given its evolving role within the future integrated system, said the Society.

It also sets out the PSI’s plans for developing what it describes as a more effective regulatory model for community pharmacies. The PSI’s ‘digital first’ business transformation programme will also be completed on a phased basis over the lifetime of the plan, it said.

“Our role as regulator is to assure the public’s continued trust in pharmacy through effective regulation,” said Mr Niall Byrne, Registrar and Chief Officer, PSI. “The key focus of this plan is to ensure the continued provision of safe, quality pharmacy care within pharmacies and to ensure that pharmacists maintain high standards of professionalism.

The healthcare system has been tested this past year like never before and there have been important learnings, including for the community pharmacy sector, whose position and importance as a highly accessible part of the healthcare system has been very much reinforced. Under this strategy, we are committed to working with stakeholders to help make the pharmacy sector as resilient as possible for the future, as well as helping to shape the evolving role of the pharmacy sector within the future, more integrated model of healthcare delivery.”

Expanding role

The Registrar added: “Significant changes have occurred in recent years in pharmacy practice, with the role of pharmacists expanding. The pandemic has led to additional changes and further amplified the benefits of the reorientation of the health system towards integrated care through the implementation of Sláintecare. For our part, we are committed, over the lifetime of this strategy and via the annual service plans that we will develop to deliver it, to actions that will facilitate continued high-quality, and where necessary enhanced, healthcare provision by pharmacists.

“Furthermore, we will continue our work to reform and develop our regulatory frameworks so that we can be the most effective type of pharmacy regulator — one which adds value for the public without imposing undue burden. A key focus over the next three years will be the continued development of outcome-based standards, such as our Covid-19 Operational Standards, which we developed during 2020. The standards, which are informed by approaches adopted both nationally and internationally, will inform the public as to the standard of care and professionalism which they can expect to receive from a registered pharmacy. Fundamentally, this is about the PSI assuring the public that safe systems of care are in place and that these operate within clear accountability structures.”

He continued: “Ease of engagement is critical to effective regulation, and we are committed to making it easier for our stakeholders to engage with us through a digital-first approach. Our transformation in this regard is well underway and will be delivered on a phased basis, starting with the launch of a new streamlined registration platform in 2021. This new platform will provide registrants with a single online point of contact with the PSI. It will also make it easier for the public and patients to access information on our public register — from details of a pharmacy’s supervising pharmacist, to its opening hours.”

President of the PSI Ms Joanne Kissane described the new three-year strategy as providing “much-needed strategic continuity”, rather than radical strategic change. “As a regulator, the PSI must be capable of meeting future health requirements. Notwithstanding the more recent and ongoing challenges presented by Covid, Ireland’s healthcare system was already facing several significant challenges, including an ageing population and escalating demand,” she said.

“Currently, there are 20-plus million visits to pharmacies each year and 80-plus million items dispensed annually, and we can expect those figures to rise significantly. By 2030, the share of the population aged 65 and over is projected to grow from one-in-eight to one-in-six, while the number of people aged over 85 is projected to almost double.

Pharmacists have a critical role in delivering safe, effective healthcare services to this changing demographic. The PSI’s role is to ensure that all of this vital healthcare activity is regulated to a high and consistent standard — building our capacity to deliver on this responsibility has been the cornerstone of our recent corporate strategies.”

Ms Kissane concluded: “While the PSI made significant progress under its previous strategy during 2018-2020, we would have liked to have achieved more. PSI’s plans for 2020, in particular, were significantly impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic.  This new strategy continues some of the work already underway, while also setting a course for the next three years and recommitting the PSI to its core mission of ensuring safe and reliable care. We are confident that, in partnership with our stakeholders, further and valuable progress on this mission will be made in the coming three years.”