Pharmacy technicians have been named as one of the additional roles to be supported in the latest GP contract, which is a hugely positive step towards recognising the skills, knowledge and valuable contribution that pharmacy technicians make to patient care.
The excitement of the news is just settling and all at APTUK are really pleased to say we are ready to support making the opportunity a reality.
I hope the recognition of the profession within the contract will enable work to be undertaken around workforce strategy, careers and additional education. This will require many organisations to work collaboratively and APTUK looks forward to supporting these key critical pieces of work for our members and for the wider pharmacy professions but, most importantly, for patients.
The numbers required to fulfil the potential are large given that there has been a decline in the number of pre-registration trainee pharmacy technicians and student pharmacy technicians trained over the years, and so naturally APTUK is concerned that the wider pharmacy workforce and services do not become de-stabilised.
There are a few models that could be explored and capitalised on to reduce the risk. The introduction of the Level 3 Diploma: Principles and Practice for Pharmacy Technicians is an ideal opportunity to invest in an additional pharmacy technician workforce. This would need work between employers and commissioners to ensure implementation plans support growing the pharmacy technician workforce with the right skills to effectively contribute to patient care. The diploma requires two years to qualify and trainees to have a work base, which will provide them with the essential skills required around medicines optimisation and public health advice.
There is a need for detailed discussion and innovative models to ensure that community pharmacy and the hospital sector do not lose valued pharmacy technicians to primary care network roles. This is not unachievable given the timescales, if managed now we could ensure that the pharmacy technician workforce capacity grows and does not adversely cause a workforce drain on other sectors. Never before has the value of pharmacy technicians been realised. The challenge is to ensure there are enough of us to provide sustainable long-term impact.
So, I truly believe, that with the correct strategy and investment we can ensure that the GP contract will lead to an increase in the essential pharmacy technician workforce numbers and contribute to a greater opportunity in the future.
It really is an amazing time to be a pharmacy technician and we need to ensure the career opportunities are fully realised.