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Pharmacy Technicians - Pharmacy Professionals

Published: 3rd May 2017


President, Tess Fenn, would like to clarify APTUKs position following this morning’s unfortunate and extremely disappointing tweet temporarily posted by Martin Astbury, fellow and President of the RPS, as part of his re-election campaign and his position on ‘Supervision’.

Pharmacy technicians are registered and regulated professionals governed by the same regulatory and professional standards set by the General Pharmaceutical Council, as pharmacists. For pharmacy to deliver the high volume of person centred care, wherever it is needed, to an ever increasing population, of which 17% are over 65years of age, it requires the effort, commitment and dedication of pharmacy professionals; pharmacists and pharmacy technicians working to the top of their license. It also requires the valued work provided by non-registered dispensers, pharmacy assistants, and medicines counter assistants.

By default being a registered and regulated professional means that professional boundaries must be adhered to in every sphere of work and communication. It also means that to enter the register a standard of education, competence and practise must be achieved. For pharmacy technicians this is, as well as practise requirements, achieving two qualifications; level 3 Diplomas in Pharmacy Service Skills and Pharmaceutical Science. Within the pharmaceutical science knowledge qualification there are 19 units of knowledge, including chemistry, microbiology, physiology,) pharmacy law, pharmaceutics, dispensing, pharmacy production, professional practise, communicating in a pharmacy and  8 units of action & uses of medicines that reflect the chapters of the British National Formulary.

Following registration pharmacy technicians, are subject to the same continuing professional development standards as pharmacists and continue to gain experience by continual learning and achieving a variety of accreditations such as:

           The Assessment of Medicines Management Skills

           Pharmacy Technician Final Accuracy Checking of Dispensed Items

           Pre and In-Process Checking within Technical Services

           Pharmacy Clinical Services Professional Diploma Level 4

As their practise advances and they specialise many pharmacy technicians go on to gain bachelor and master’s degrees in areas of specialism. Often pre –registration trainee pharmacy technicians enter the profession as graduates, many with pharmacy related degrees such as Pharmaceutical Science BSc(Hons) or science degrees.

The recent report ‘Identifying the roles of Pharmacy Technicians in the UK’ undertaken by the University of East Anglia in collaboration with APTUK, showed that respondents from community pharmacy, hospital pharmacy and primary care, had a considerable number of years’ experience in pharmacy and this supported and allowed pharmacists to advanced their practise as clinicians and independent prescribers. Therefore enabling both professions to work to the top of their license for better patient outcomes. 

The pharmacy technician profession complements that of pharmacists and is well placed to deliver effective and efficient pharmaceutical services to patients within safe systems of work and layers of governance as professionals in their own right. 

APTUKs position on ‘Supervision as an enabler 2011’ remains the same and is clear that the pharmacist remains accountable for the clinical appropriateness of the prescription and thereafter delegation is based on risk assessed mechanisms.

Health policy drivers such as the Five Year Forward View in England and its next steps, Community Pharmacy Clinical Services review and the Community Pharmacy Forward view and ‘Making it Happen’, all propose new models of care within a future NHS and for it to be sustainable. These empower clinicians to shape services and provide opportunities to deliver modern, world-class, innovative community services that have direct benefit to patients.

APTUK believes that this is about recognising the essential role that pharmacy technicians already play as well as their scope to take on new roles. APTUK also believes that this is imperative for the future of pharmacy.