More than 800 pharmacy technicians to be given training in dispensing and clinical skills

NHS England said the training would enable pharmacy technicians to take on greater responsibility in their teams, while pharmacists continue to train as independent prescribers.
Queue of people at a pharmacy counter

Up to 840 pharmacy technicians are to be given training under a new scheme designed to allow technicians to take on greater responsibility in dispensing and deliver more clinical services in community pharmacy.

The ‘Community pharmacy technician: advancing your role programme’ is set to be launched on 28 September 2023 and will include learning modules that will cover consultation skills, therapeutics, clinical decision making and assessment skills, as well as service improvement.

Delivered by the Centre for Pharmacy Postgraduate Education (CPPE), the programme is aimed to support pharmacy technicians in England to develop and apply reflective practitioner skills; apply relevant clinical therapeutics to people-centred consultations, ensuring that shared decision making is prioritised; deliver effective clinical services; and demonstrate appropriate clinical assessment skills.

Commenting on the scheme, a spokesperson for the Association of Pharmacy Technicians UK (APTUK) said that, alongside NHS England’s announcement on 14 August 2023 on community pharmacy independent prescribing investment, these were “positive steps in upskilling the entire pharmacy team to support the healthcare agenda and address health inequalities”.

Meanwhile, Malcolm Harrison, chief executive of the Company Chemists’ Association (CCA), said the training would help boost the community pharmacy workforce, but he said the 840 training spaces only addressed “a small part of the overall need”.

“The recent HEE workforce survey reported that there are over 6,000 pharmacy technicians. It is therefore critical that those fortunate enough to benefit from this training can put their new skills to use in practice. This will require the commissioning of new clinical services from community pharmacies,” he said.

Tase Oputu, chair of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society English Pharmacy Board, said the training programme “will empower pharmacy technicians to deliver enhanced clinical services and assume greater responsibilities in dispensing medicines”.

“We support efforts to expand the scope of pharmacy practice, allowing pharmacists to focus on independent prescribing while pharmacy technicians excel in their roles as skilled healthcare professionals,” she added.

“This move aligns with ‘A vision for pharmacy professional practice in England‘, where we want to make best use of the skills of the entire pharmacy team.”

Liz Fidler, senior professional advisor pharmacy technician practice at NHS England, said: “The opportunity for community pharmacy technicians to undertake this post-registration training will build on their existing knowledge and skills as registered healthcare practitioners, enabling them to enhance and expand services for patients and fulfil their potential, as we reform skill mix and support new ways of working to ensure we are providing the best possible care for patients and communities.”

The ‘NHS long-term workforce plan‘, published on 30 June 2023, committed to increasing pharmacist training places to around 5,000 by 2031/2032. It also claimed that the pharmacy technician workforce would grow but it did not give a target for the growth.

Since April 2023, pharmacy technicians have been able to carry out blood pressure checks and deliver smoking cessation services under new directions for the services.

The changes follow several initiatives that expand the role of the pharmacy technician, including administering flu vaccinesCOVID-19 vaccines, and taking part in discharge medicine reviews.

Last updated
The Pharmaceutical Journal, PJ, August 2023, Vol 311, No 7976;311(7976)::DOI:10.1211/PJ.2023.1.194534

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