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Int J Pharm Pract. 2016 May;24(3):170-9. doi: 10.1111/ijpp.12230. Epub 2015 Dec 16.

Delegation: a solution to the workload problem? Observations and interviews with community pharmacists in England.

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Pharmacy Practice Department, Medway School of Pharmacy, Chatham, Kent, UK.



This study aims to describe how pharmacists utilise and perceive delegation in the community setting.


Non-participant observations and semi-structured interviews with a convenience sample of community pharmacists working in Kent between July and October 2011. Content analysis was undertaken to determine key themes and the point of theme saturation informed sample size. Findings from observations were also compared against those from interviews.


Observations and interviews were undertaken with 11 pharmacists. Observations showed that delegation occurred in four different forms: assumed, active, partial and reverse. It was also employed to varying extents within the different pharmacies. Interviews revealed mixed views on delegation. Some pharmacists presented positive attitudes towards delegation while others were concerned about maintaining accountability for delegated tasks, particularly in terms of accuracy checking of dispensed medication. Other pharmacists noted the ability to delegate was not a skill they found inherently easy. Comparison of observation and interview data highlighted discrepancies between tasks pharmacists perceived they delegated and what they actually delegated.


Effective delegation can potentially promote better management of workload to provide pharmacists with additional time to spend on cognitive pharmaceutical services. To do this, pharmacists' reluctance to delegate must be addressed. Lack of insight into own practice might be helped by self-reflection and feedback from staff. Also, a greater understanding of legal accountability in the context of delegation needs to be achieved. Finally, delegation is not just dependent on pharmacists, but also on support staff; ensuring staff are empowered and equipped to take on delegated roles is essential.


community pharmacy; delegation; observation; working practices; workload

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