Government consults on allowing pharmacy technicians to supply medicines under a patient group direction

The change to regulations would allow pharmacy technicians to administer vaccines and certain medicines.
Prescription bag being handed to a to a patient at a hospital dispensary

The government has launched a consultation on allowing pharmacy technicians to supply and administer medicines under patient group directions (PGDs), in what has been described as a “pivotal moment” for technicians.

The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) published the consultation document on 18 August 2023, proposing a change to the Human Medicines Regulations 2012 that would add pharmacy technicians to the current list of registered healthcare professionals that are permitted to supply and administer medicines under a PGD. There are currently 15 professions on the list, including pharmacists.

The consultation highlights that, under the proposed changes, pharmacy technicians could administer vaccines, emergency contraception and ongoing oral contraception, as well as providing patients with pre-operative medication.

The document says: “By utilising the skills of the whole pharmacy team, pharmacists in community pharmacy will be enabled to deliver more patient-facing clinical services, improving access to care for patients and releasing capacity in the wider NHS.

“Across other clinical settings, this proposal will enable registered pharmacy technicians to maximise the contribution they make within multi-professional teams through more effective use of their unique skills and expertise.”

The consultation says there are no plans to allow pharmacy technicians to supply or administer controlled drugs under a PGD, and it said it does not “expect large numbers of new PGDs to be developed specifically for use by registered pharmacy technicians”.

Pharmacy technicians were able to administer COVID-19 vaccinations under a national protocol that was published in December 2020. They were authorised by name to work under the protocol, under the supervision of a registered doctor, nurse or pharmacist.

In September 2021, Public Health England published a national protocol, which also allowed pharmacy technicians to prepare and administer the flu vaccine, although they could not assess the person being vaccinated, obtain informed consent or provide advice. The protocol has been reissued for each of the subsequent annual flu vaccination programmes, including for 2023/2024.

Claire Steele, president of the Association of Pharmacy Technicians UK, welcomed the consultation.

“Pharmacy technicians as registered healthcare professionals, with their knowledge and skill in the safe use of medicines, are ideally placed to supply and administer medicines under a PGD,” she said.

“We believe such a change would have a hugely positive benefit to patients, communities and pharmacy teams, helping to address the challenges of delivering modern healthcare and addressing health inequalities.

“This is a pivotal moment for the pharmacy technician profession as their contribution to patient care, pharmacy and wider healthcare delivery is recognised and valued; we encourage all pharmacy technicians to respond to the consultation.”

A spokesperson for the Royal Pharmaceutical Society said it would submit a response to the consultation after discussion with its boards, and possibly wider membership.

The consultation closes on 29 September 2023.

Last updated
The Pharmaceutical Journal, PJ, August 2023, Vol 311, No 7976;311(7976)::DOI:10.1211/PJ.2023.1.194639


  • Brian Matthews

    How long before the expensive pharmacists will be replaced completely by technicians?

    • Darren Powell

      Should the position come that pharmacy technicians can undertake the roles currently delivered by pharmacists, then I would expect them to be renumerated at a similar rate, based on the responsibility and liability they would be undertaking.
      That would seem fair to me, and I would hope they wouldn't undervalue that position.

    • Peter Robinson

      I imagine that pharmacy technicians will become just as expensive if this proposed action is taken.

  • Peter Robinson

    It would seem fair to me that pharmacy technicians took a pharmacy degree before embarking on pharmacists' responsibilities.


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