Pharmacy technicians may take on greater role in dispensing under government proposals

Exclusive: The Department of Heath and Social Care has told The Pharmaceutical Journal that it will look at how legislation and practice can be updated to allow pharmacy technicians to take more of a role in dispensing.

pharmacy technician and customer

Pharmacy technicians could take on more of a role in the dispensing process in community pharmacy under forthcoming government proposals, the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) has confirmed.

The proposals were hinted at in the ‘Community Pharmacy Contractual Framework for 2019/20 to 2023/24’, published on 22 July 2019, as the government committed to proposing legislative changes “that will allow for better use of the skill mix in pharmacies and enable the clinical integration of pharmacists”.

In a statement to The Pharmaceutical Journal, the DHSC clarified that the proposals will look at how legislation and practice can be updated to allow pharmacy technicians to take more of a role in dispensing.

It added that pharmacy technicians would always operate under the supervision of a pharmacist in their new role, but changing legislation would enable pharmacists to make better use of their clinical skills by dealing directly with patients.

When asked which part of legislation was being looked at specifically, the DHSC said it will be looking into the legislation around medicine dispensing but was unable to provide any further detail.

The DHSC said in the contract document, published on 22 July 2019, that changes would allow “dispensing to become more efficient to free pharmacists up to provide new services” and enable them to work “at the top of their clinical licence”.

It added that the proposed changes would be produced with support from the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC).

Gordon Hockey, director of operations and support at the PSNC, said in a webinar on 24 July 2019 on the contractual framework that the PSNC had yet to see what the government was planning to propose, but is “agreeing to the conversation” on skill mix.

He added: “The sort of thing that you might see here is a long overdue conversation about the Responsible Pharmacist legislation and potentially the ability of the pharmacist to leave the pharmacy for a short period of time during core hours to be able to take part and be involved in work related to primary care networks.”

A spokesperson for the PSNC told The Pharmaceutical Journal that it would comment further once it had received the government’s plans.

Government proposals published in September 2018 on Responsible Pharmacists sought to clarify their role in primary legislation.

But there was opposition from some pharmacists who criticised the proposals, arguing that a pharmacist must be on site at all times.

The DHSC said in April 2019 that this criticism was based on a misunderstanding of the proposals and said it had not “formulated proposals in relation to ‘remote supervision’”.


Last updated
The Pharmaceutical Journal, PJ, August 2019, Vol 303, No 7928;303(7928):DOI:10.1211/PJ.2019.20206877

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