Recently, the Guild of Healthcare Pharmacists included the following statement in their submission to National Institute of Clinical Excellence (NICE) during the NICE consultation on Patient Group Directions (PGDs):
The list of Health Professionals eligible to use PGDs should include ‘Pharmacy Technicians’. The clinical roles of pharmacy technicians in NHS hospitals has developed in recent years therefore adding these registered health professionals to the list would enhance patient care by improving access to appropriate medicines and reducing delays in treatment. The skills of these individuals would also be maximised.
The topic was then picked up by the Pharmacist Defence Association (PDA) who surveyed their members and published an article in the PDA Hospital Newsletter which can be found at: http://www.the-pda.org/pdf/insight/2013-summer-insight-hospital.pdf
Subsequently, a report was published by Chemist and Druggist (C&D) which can be seen at: http://www.chemistanddruggist.co.uk.To avoid any confusion, technician in the context of the C&D report title does refer to a pharmacy technician.
The Association of Pharmacy Technicians (UK), (APTUK), is the recognised professional leadership body for pharmacy technicians. We support the general principle proposed by GHP that pharmacy technicians should be added to the list of healthcare professionals who can supply medicines against a PGD. Our general approach to supporting new or extended roles for pharmacy technicians is underpinned by three important principles: protecting patients, protecting pharmacy technicians and maximising the competence of pharmacy technicians alongside their relatively newly registered status.
In supporting these important principles, we believe that, where any new role is proposed for pharmacy technicians, it should be the subject of a rigorous risk assessment and risk management process. The purpose of this is to ensure that the three important principles listed above are preserved. This approach has been communicated previously and can be found in our Supervision statement at; http://www.aptuk.org/media/dynamic/files/2011/10/07/Supervision
Using the approach outlined above, we believe that there will be some PGDs where medicines can be supplied by pharmacy technicians providing all of the risks to both patients and pharmacy technicians have been appropriately managed. Of course, we also recognise that there may be some that cannot. However, if pharmacy technicians are on the list, it does not mean that they will necessarily be included in every PGD. The process of developing a PGD will, in itself, be part of the risk management process.
The survey and articles highlighted some comments which may have arisen from misunderstandings or a lack of knowledge. However, some of these comments need an informed response to ensure a consistent and wide understanding of the subject.
The greater use of pharmacy technician competence can be managed through the development of systems and processes to eliminate risk both to patients and pharmacy technicians. Similar concerns were raised at the prospect of pharmacy technicians taking on final accuracy checking, ward based and other patient facing medicines management roles; there was also significant concern at registering pharmacy technicians. All of these concerns have proved unfounded with no negative impact on patient safety.
Professional Leadership Body for UK Pharmacy Technicians
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