Technicians are seeking powers that would threaten patient safety, claims PDA

The Pharmacists’ Defence Association has concerns about technicians performing certain tasks without a pharmacist present.

Mark Koziol, chair of the Pharmacists’ Defence Association

A row is brewing between pharmacists and pharmacy technicians about the potential tasks technicians can perform unsupervised when the pharmacist is away from the workplace.

According to the Pharmacists’ Defence Association (PDA), technicians want to be able to make the final accuracy check on dispensed items, hand out dispensed prescriptions and sell pharmacy (P) medicines when the pharmacist is away from the pharmacy.

The PDA says it is concerned about these potential changes because the pharmacist would still be responsible for what happens in the pharmacy even in his or her absence. Giving technicians these new powers would also threaten patient safety, it says.

The PDA is now surveying its members to discover what they think the impact of such changes would be and if they agree with them.

Mark Koziol, chairman of the PDA, says the association supports technicians taking on roles traditionally performed by a pharmacist, but argues that it is essential this only happens when the pharmacist is in the pharmacy.

“A pharmacy without a pharmacist is a less safe place than a pharmacy with a pharmacist present,” he says.

Potential new roles for pharmacy technicians were discussed at a confidential meeting in April 2015 between government representatives, pharmacists and technicians and the government’s Rebalancing Medicines Legislation and Pharmacy Regulation Programme Board. The board is looking at supervision in the pharmacy as part of its remit to reform medicines legislation.

In a statement issued on 3 May 2015, the Association of Pharmacy Technicians UK (APTUK), which represents pharmacy technicians, said the PDA website statement was “misleading”.

“APTUK are integral to the discussions on supervision providing examples of how pharmacy technicians can support the delivery of patient centred outcomes now and in the future,” says APTUK’s president Tess Fenn. “Being accountable registered pharmacy professionals provides the patients, public and the profession with the reassurance they need that trained and competent staff, as part of the pharmacy team, are able to meet their healthcare needs.” 

Last updated
The Pharmaceutical Journal, PJ, 23/30 May 2015, Vol 294, No 7863/4;294(7863/4):DOI:10.1211/PJ.2015.20068529

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