Pharmacy technicians enabled to administer and supply medicines under patient group directions

The government said 84% of consultation respondents agreed with adding pharmacy technicians to the list of healthcare professionals permitted to supply and administer medicines under a patient group direction.
Pharmacy technician helping customer in community pharmacy

Pharmacy technicians will be able to administer and supply specified medicines under patient group directions (PGDs), the government has announced.

Under the changes, which will come into effect on 26 June 2024, pharmacy technicians registered in England, Scotland and Wales will also potentially be able to undertake tasks that could include administering vaccines and providing consultations.

In August 2023, the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) launched a consultation, which closed in September 2023, proposing a change to the Human Medicines Regulations 2012 to add pharmacy technicians to a list of registered healthcare professionals permitted to supply and administer medicines under a patient group direction (PGD).

There were previously 15 professions on the list, including pharmacists.

A statement from the DHSC, published on 28 March 2024, said that 84% of respondents to the consultation agreed with the proposals.

Speaking exclusively with The Pharmaceutical Journal, pharmacy minister Andrea Leadsom said the updated legislation was intended to “enable better patient access, whilst at the same time ensuring absolute patient safety”.

“Pharmacy technicians will be working to the top of their training, as opposed to previously not fulfilling all the tasks and activities for which they are trained,” she said.

“So, in a sense, part of our ‘Delivery plan for recovering access to primary care’ has been to make sure that all of the amazingly well-trained professionals in primary care, including in pharmacy, can work to the top of their training.”

In a position statement on the changes, Nicola Stockmann, president of the Association of Pharmacy Technicians UK, welcomed the move as “a landmark moment for patient care” which will “ensure pharmacy technicians are able to safely expand access to pharmacy services in a pressured healthcare landscape”.

“During the COVID-19 pandemic, it was also evident that pharmacy technicians and their potential were not able to be fully utilised to support delivery of essential frontline pharmacy services, such as vaccination,” she said.

Under a national protocol, published in December 2020, pharmacy technicians were able to administer COVID-19 vaccinations under the supervision of a doctor, nurse or pharmacist.

Then, in September 2021, Public Health England published a national protocol that allowed pharmacy technicians to prepare and administer the flu vaccine.

Claire Anderson, president of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS), said the changes would “increase capacity for pharmacy teams and further support consistency of services being offered within pharmacy”.

“This will support transformational change within pharmacy teams and enable the further evolution of the pharmacist’s role into more complex clinical care.”

Anderson added that it was “essential that the accountability and professional responsibility of pharmacy technicians is clearly understood in situations where PGDs are being used”.

In its consultation response, the RPS supported the proposals but said the current two-year preregistration training was not sufficient for pharmacy technicians to supply and administer medicines under PGDs.

Mark Koziol, chair of the Pharmacists’ Defence Association, raised concerns about pharmacy technicians expanding the scope of their practice in a letter to Leadsom, dated 25 March 2024.

The letter said that “cumulative risks to patient safety” were building “because of the undeniable move towards allowing pharmacy staff to undertake activities which are inappropriate to their educational standard”.

This article was updated on 5 June 2024 to include the date from which the legislative changes will come into effect.

Last updated
The Pharmaceutical Journal, PJ, March 2024, Vol 312, No 7983;312(7983)::DOI:10.1211/PJ.2024.1.307177

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