Association of Pharmacy
Technicians UK (APTUK)
The Professional Leadership Body for Pharmacy Technicians
Published: 10th January 2018
Pharmacy Technicians, as healthcare professionals regulated by the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC), work within the pharmacy team in all healthcare settings; hospitals, care homes, GP practices, Clinical Commissioning Groups, prisons, Ministry of Defence, pharmacy industry, training and education providers and community pharmacies. Patient safety is paramount and pharmacy technicians acknowledge that dispensing and finally accuracy checking powerful dispensed medicines is a huge professional responsibility.
The distressing consequences of the dispensing errors broadcast in the BBC Inside Out programme, although rare, unfortunately show what can happen when medicines are dispensed wrongly. They serve to remind us, as healthcare professionals, that medicines are potentially harmful. They serve to remind us that safe systems of work are of upmost importance. They serve to remind us that processes and professional judgement must minimise the risk of errors.
Any mistake is one too many and it is our professional duty to share and learn together to prevent the same or similar mistakes happening again. In November 2016 APTUK, Royal Pharmaceutical Society and Pharmacy Forum published the joint professional standards on Professional Standards for the Reporting, Learning, Sharing, Taking Action and Review of Incidents. The standards provide guidance to support the pharmacy team in engaging and being proactive in improving patient safety by sharing and learning from all incidents including dispensing errors. APTUK continues to engage with our members, through our branches and externally with the pharmacy technician profession to raise awareness of these professional standards.
It is reported almost daily by the media that the NHS is under huge pressure and this extends to all pharmacy staff and particularly those working in patient facing roles in every sector where we work. We know that the number of items dispensed annually is increasing year on year. We know that there is an increasing population and an increasing number of people with long term conditions, often elderly, that are taking more and more medicines. As the demand for medicines grows, and will continue to grow, the pharmacy workload is increasing and this is in turn is placing increased pressure on pharmacists, pharmacy technicians and pharmacy teams.
APTUK have continually advocated that pharmacy technicians, as responsible and accountable professionals in their own right, can help support pharmacists. We have also continually raised whether enough pharmacy technicians are being trained as we believe that, depending on the volume of work, there should be a pharmacy technician in every pharmacy. APTUK believe that staffing levels and effective skill mix is necessary to provide safe efficient and effective pharmacy services and this is the remit of responsible employers.
APTUK is committed to engaging with all developments in pharmacy practice that improves quality and patient safety. We believe in an open, honest and transparent culture and the empowerment of pharmacy professionals to be able to raise concerns about workplace pressure and patient safety without fear of reprisal.
APTUK looks forward, later this year, to the GPhC’s guidance on this and pledges support to both the regulator and the Royal Pharmaceutical Society in ensuring that every pharmacy has a safe and effective team.