Pharmaceutical Assistants Association Co. Ltd. & Ors v The Pharmaceutical Society of Ireland & Ors [2019] IEHC 663

Pharmaceutical Assistants in the Republic of Ireland have challenged proposed new rules to restrict their role.

They are currently permitted to carry out the what of a pharmacist during his or her ‘temporary absence’. There’s is a distinct profession, governed by statute, and within the purvue of the Respondents.  No new Pharmaceutical Assistants have qualified in Ireland since 1985, with the majority of post-holders being female and aged 55+.    

At present, Pharmaceutical Assistants are permitted to cover short absences of the pharmacist such as lunch hour, two half days or one day per week as well as unscheduled short absences and the standard annual leave of the pharmacist, not exceeding 14 days in any single absence.  

These rules are to be amended, subject to Ministerial approval, to restrict the ‘temporary absence’ that can be covered to one hour per day.  The Applicants are seeking to challenge this by way of judicial review.  

The Respondents sought to split the issues into two separate hearings.  Refusing their application, Mr Justice Barr said:    

It seems to me that it would be a much better use of time and money to have all the issues argued at the one hearing, rather than having the administrative law issues determined first and then possibly having another full-blown hearing a number of months later on the constitutional issues.  

The case is to proceed to full hearing on all matters.

By Paul Sullivan FRSA

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