A leadership development pilot programme for pharmacy technicians working in community pharmacies in England is being launched in 2018.
The results of the pilot, which is being run by NHS England and Health Education England, will be officially evaluated and include recommendations for future work.
The new pilot focuses on developing the professional, management, and leadership roles of technicians within community pharmacy, and the training programme will involve at least 25 technicians working in 25 different community pharmacies across England, according to the invitation to bid.
Details of the pilot follow the publication of a leaked document from a working group of the Department of Health’s Rebalancing Medicines Legislation and Pharmacy Regulation Programme Board, which suggested that current legislation could be changed to allow a “registered pharmacy professional”, which could include a technician, to “take responsibility for” the sale and supply of pharmacy and prescription-only medicines.
The three RPS national boards and the RPS president said a pharmacist must always be present in a pharmacy, apart from occasional short periods of time, and they jointly called for legal guarantees that a pharmacist will always undertake a clinical assessment or check.
Tess Fenn, president of the Association of Pharmacy Technicians UK (APTUK), said: “The University of East Anglia research into the roles of pharmacy technicians in the UK, conducted in collaboration with APTUK last year, identified that registered community pharmacy technicians felt they could contribute more to the delivery of pharmacy services if their post registration training was further supported. So this is a step in the right direction to ensure the pharmacy team, and specifically pharmacy technicians, are competent and fully utilised for the benefit of patients.”
The closing date for bids from training providers interested in taking on the £325,000 one- year contract is 11 October 2017. The pilot is due to start in January 2018 and finish in December that year.
Meanwhile, the pharmacy regulator has announced new professional standards for pharmacy technicians and proposed revised criteria for registration.
The new standards, announced by the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) on 3 October 2017, include guaranteeing that technicians have the knowledge and skills to check accuracy in a variety of settings which would include community and hospital pharmacies. The updated standards were approved in principle at a council meeting of the GPhC in September 2017.
Technicians would need to be competent in checking that the medicines prescribed are for the person named on the prescription, for example. Clinical accuracy checks would continue to be performed by the pharmacist, the GPhC confirmed.
The GPhC is also proposing additional new criteria for pharmacy technician professional registration.
It is suggesting that in future a technician or a pharmacist should have the power to oversee the training of pre-registration technicians. The role is currently fulfilled only by pharmacists.
Any changes to the criteria still need to be finalised before being introduced later next year, the GPHC confirmed.
Chief executive of the GPhC, Duncan Rudkin, said: “These new standards reflect the changing needs of patients in today’s healthcare environment; and support the delivery of person-centred care and professionalism of the pharmacy technician role.
“They should also provide assurance that pharmacy technicians are receiving the right education and training to prepare them to provide safe and effective care from their first day on the job.”