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Pharmacy Technicians - an untapped workforce solution

Below is the Association of Pharmacy Technicians UK (APTUK) writtten response to the future of pharmacy in the wake of Covid-19 inquiry.

 

There is an untapped resource that needs capitalising on to support the much-needed expansion of pharmaceutical and patient focussed services to assist with healthcare policy delivery and frontline health services pressures.  A registered healthcare workforce that can be trained via an apprenticeship route, providing service from day 1 of their education pathway in 2 years..... Pharmacy Technicians.

Pharmacy technicians are a registered healthcare professional, regulated by the General Pharmaceutical Council. Pharmacy technicians adhere to the same professional standards and revalidation requirements as pharmacists.

The Initial Education and Trainings Standards (IETs) were modernised in 2017.  The training requirement is a two-year education pathway with 2 years' work experience. Models of integrated training are embedded to ensure transferability of skills across sectors. A model that is now being explored for pharmacists.

Strategic conversations on realising the full potential of another complementary HCP working in pharmacy needs exploring and value to be recognised as a healthcare workforce solution. The pandemic has provided the backdrop for these discussions as multidisciplinary teams in primary and secondary care are acknowledging the medicines optimisation skill set including the role in reducing overprescribing, public health and safe, secure medicines supply the profession can contribute. The barriers to realising the potential and growth could be mitigated and managed via strategic workforce planning, legislation modernisation and re-purposing of current funding mechanisms. Many of the challenges being faced for retention and workload management in the sector could be supported by better workforce and skill mix utilisation. 

Discussions on supervision and realising the potential of another trained, regulated pharmacy professional are underway. Many examples can be provided on how with legislation changes pharmacy services could be modernised with a patient focus. Pharmacy employers, policy and commissioners are exploring these options. Pharmacy technicians being able to hand out pre-clinically screened and checked medicines when the pharmacist is on a lunch break for example needs to happen to ensure patient care is not compromised. Pharmacy technicians providing health screening, medicines advice and other clinical services needs embedding. Barriers such as VAT and understanding legislation, regulation and perception need to be discussed to enable the profession to deliver what patients and other healthcare service's needs.

Immunisation programmes and the change in Patient Group Directions legislation could also enable the profession to fulfil its roles potential and help some areas of the sector understand the value of the pharmacy technician profession/workforce. Please see the attached case for change to provide more detail. National protocols do not embrace the full skill set and demonstratable knowledge of the profession and PGD status.

APTUK welcomes key organisations working collaboratively to understand the contribution of this underutilised profession within the pharmacy sector, primary care has embraced the roles in GP and PCNs so there is learning that could be applied.

APTUK would be delighted to attend and present at any events to support progression on behalf of patients and the communities we serve. 

Liz Fidler FAPharmT, on behalf of the executive committee 
President | Association of Pharmacy Technicians UK

 

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