Most pharmacy technicians would not feel comfortable supervising medicines sales in the absence of a pharmacist under current circumstances, a snapshot survey carried out by the Pharmacists’ Defence Association (PDA) suggests.
Discussions on the future of pharmacy supervision are ongoing as part of the government’s Rebalancing Medicines Legislation and Pharmacy Regulation Programme Board.
The PDA — which does not have a seat on the rebalancing board, and says it has not been invited to take part in discussions on the issue — surveyed 142 technicians from across the UK to ask whether assuming no changes to pay, training, career prospects and working conditions, they would accept criminal, civil and regulatory responsibility for supervising the sale and supply prescription only (POM), pharmacy (P) or general sales list (GSL) medicines.
In all, 86% of those pharmacy technicians said they would not supervise POM sales in the absence of a pharmacist, 80% would not supervise P or GSL sales if a pharmacist was not there, and 87% would not supervise other pharmacy staff in the absence of a pharmacist.
But 42% said they would be prepared to supervise the sales of POMs if there was a pharmacist physically on the premises who they could ask for help.
Factors that respondents said might change their mind were the removal of the possibility of criminal prosecution; a salary increase to reflect the extra responsibility; additional training; better staffing levels; and for a pharmacist to take responsibility for any regulatory action or negligence claims if anything went wrong.
Paul Day, PDA director, said: “There are some very serious decisions currently being considered by the rebalancing board in relation to the pharmacy skill mix and supervision in the community pharmacy sector.
“These require a real understanding of the capabilities of pharmacy technicians and a proper and robust mechanism for soliciting the views of grassroots pharmacists and pharmacy technicians when developing proposals that affect their futures.”
In response to the PDA survey, Tess Fenn, president of the Association of Pharmacy Technicians UK (APTUK), said: “At this stage, we are unaware of the evidence behind the survey and the reported data does not align with recent discussions that APTUK have had with their members. APTUK were not engaged or asked to participate in the survey, and were not informed this had taken place. Our view remains constant as is stated in all of our position statements on our website, particularly in relation to tasks that we believe could be delegated safely to competent, regulated pharmacy professionals within the right safe systems and with the right governance in place.”
APTUK has said it will ask its members for their views on pharmacy supervision in the autumn of 2018, and the Royal Pharmaceutical Society has said it will consult its members on the issue in 2018.