Fianna Fáil Senator Robbie Gallagher has voiced his concerns about new proposals that could severely curtail the role of pharmaceutical assistants employed in pharmacies across the country. New regulations propose severely limiting the amount of time that a pharmaceutical assistant can cover for a pharmacist.

“At the moment, under existing codes of practice, an assistant is entitled to cover short absences, such as lunch hours, two half days or one full day per week and unscheduled short absences. In the case of a temporary absence resulting from a pharmacist’s holiday entitlements, the assistant is entitled to cover two working weeks per annum”, said Senator Gallagher.

“These practices have been in place for almost a quarter of a century and have worked well. Yet it is now being proposed that the temporary absence be limited to one hour per day.

“Under the new proposals, a pharmaceutical assistant will be able to cover for one hour per day. If this is acceptable, why is six hours not?

“I believe that it would make much more sense for all pharmaceutical assistants to undergo mandatory CPD training, in the same way as pharmacists, to ensure standards and quality.  Implementing these changes would effectively diminish their roles. Additionally, it could also jeopardise the provision of pharmacy services around the country and especially in parts of rural Cavan and Monaghan.

“Common sense needs to prevail. They have all provided valued service to their communities. Their knowledge and experience gleaned by some many years should not be thrown aside because of an overzealous desire to regulate,” concluded Senator Gallagher.