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Health | Chief pharmaceutical officers

To ask the Minister for Health his plans to introduce a chief pharmaceutical officer to ensure strategic direction for this jurisdiction’s pharmacy services; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

Pharmacists wishing to practise in Ireland must be registered with the Pharmaceutical Society of Ireland (PSI — The Pharmacy Regulator). It is the PSI’s responsibility in the public interest to ensure that Pharmacists as healthcare professionals are competent to practise. The role of a pharmacist is a significant and responsible one, and patients must be assured that pharmacists are capable of providing a safe and effective pharmacy service.
The PSI operates three routes of recognition/registration depending on where the pharmacy qualification has first been acquired – the national route, EU route and non-EU (third country qualification recognition – TCQR) route under established processes based in Irish and EU law, and cognisant of obligations emanating from Community Membership, and other legislative frameworks including Equality legislation. Currently, each individual applicant going through the TCQR process has the qualification presented assessed through a defined process, which may/may not include the requirement for completion of a period of adaptation, based on the outcome of the individual’s performance in an Equivalence Examination, and conducted on behalf of the PSI by a third party, currently UCC.
The PSI has recognised that its Third Country route of qualification recognition and registration is complex for applicants and is currently in a process to review it so that it is more streamlined and easier to navigate, with the aim being to have an improved TCQR route in place.  This is a strategic project being progressed as part of the PSI Service Plan for 2022.
My Department has professionally qualified pharmacists among its staff and does not have plans to appoint a chief pharmaceutical officer at the present time. The matter will be kept under review in the context of wider workforce planning considerations.
I am aware that there is interest currently in discussing the potential post of Chief Pharmaceutical Officer and I have asked my officials in the Medicines, Controlled Drugs and Pharmacy Legislation Unit to engage directly with the Irish Pharmacy Union in the first instance, to offer the IPU an opportunity to outline their position and to listen to their perspective and insights on this matter.

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