I am pleased to hear of progress with the Association of Pharmacy Technicians UK (APTUK) and the views of Steve Acres and Tess Fern in this week’s Pharmaceutical Journal (2014;293:180). The way forward has to be close working of pharmacists and pharmacy technicians. This may be happening but it is not apparent from a search of The Pharmaceutical Journal. The word “technician” appears rarely and mostly under disciplinary reports rather than constructive joint developments. The Guild of Healthcare Pharmacists was cited as wanting pharmacy technicians to use patient group directions in 2013, and a study where pharmacy technicians improved practice was abstracted from another journal, but nothing with Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) origins.
I was not intending to make APTUK feel under threat, and I do not know how many members the organisation has. In 2007, it had around 1,300 members, at a time when technicians in community were rare. There were 21,300 pharmacy technicians on the register in 2012, with, I suspect, a majority in community. I suspect there is a lower representation in APTUK of community pharmacy technicians, which may be why Community Pharmacy Scotland has decided to invite technicians into its organisation.
The RPS charter is rather surprisingly not linked or cited on its website so I cannot quote directly, but its aims include advancing the practice and profession of pharmacy. To do this, it must engage and lead those involved in practice, both pharmacists and pharmacy technicians.
Pharmacy technicians are not involved in the workings of the RPS and it seems the Society is not actively looking to develop pharmacy technicians’ roles or skills, and is focused mostly on pharmacists. That is not good for patients, pharmacists, the Society or pharmacy technicians. The status quo may seem attractive but I suggest it is not satisfactory. With revalidation on the horizon for all, it is time for the Society to develop a strategy for pharmacy and itself that gives pharmacy technicians their rightful place and engages rather more formally.