Health secretary Jeremy Hunt has confirmed there are no plans to give pharmacy technicians power to supervise a community pharmacy.
Hunt gave the assurance in a letter to Leeds Labour MP Hilary Benn who had raised the issue on behalf of a constituent, locum pharmacist Ubaid Ur-Rehman, who was concerned that such a move would “dilute” his professional responsibilities.
Hunt said in the letter that “the government has not brought forward any proposals to allow pharmacy technicians to supervise pharmacies”.
He agreed that there needed to be “adequate governance” in place if any statutory changes were to be made around pharmacy supervision and confirmed that the reforms would “strengthen the governance provided by superintendent pharmacists and responsible pharmacists”.
The letter comes as the government’s Rebalancing Medicines and Pharmacy Regulation Programme Board continues to consider allowing pharmacy technicians to supervise a pharmacy in the absence of a pharmacist as part of its reforms of medicines legislation.
However, any move along those lines is opposed by the Pharmacists in Pharmacy campaign group which believes that a pharmacist should always be present in a pharmacy and that handing over that authority to a technician “de-professionalises and depersonalises” the supply of medicines and face-to-face support that a pharmacist traditionally offers.
At the same time the Association of Pharmacy Technicians UK (APTUK) — the organisation representing technicians — supports changes to supervision and greater delegation of tasks to pharmacy technicians, provided there is a rigorous “risk management” assessment.
APTUK also believes that “within any proposed changes, the presence of the pharmacist remains constant, along with overall accountability for the clinical appropriateness of medicines for patients.”