‘Worrying gaps’ in new pharmacy technician qualification

Chair of the RPS English Pharmacy Board said there should be a ‘greater emphasis’ on when a case should be referred to a pharmacist.

Sandra Gidley

Details of a new single qualification for pharmacy technicians have been outlined by health education chiefs, but the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) has warned it is likely only to meet ‘basic’ requirements for the role.

Skills for Health opened a consultation on the new qualification, commissioned by Health Education England, on 2 July 2018.

It is designed to ensure that pharmacy technicians have the right knowledge and skills to register with the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC), which issued revised initial education and training standards for pharmacy technicians in October 2017.

But Sandra Gidley, chair of the RPS English Pharmacy Board, said the proposals for the new qualification represented a “basic level of training” and not a comprehensive one.

She said: “I would want to see a greater emphasis on when a case should be referred to the pharmacist — for example, the technician only has to be able to name a certain number of indications for each therapeutic area, so there could potentially be worrying gaps in knowledge,” she said.

And Gidley said it was “interesting” that the qualification proposals had been released at the same time that the Department of Health and Social Care is reviewing rules around supervision.

“Let us be crystal clear that this two-year training plan (mostly on the job) is no substitute for the skills and knowledge of a pharmacist,” she said.

Tess Fenn, president of the Association of Pharmacy Technicians UK (APTUK), said she was pleased to be moving towards a single qualification, but there needed to be a balance in showing and demonstrating competent practice.

“This is the opportunity to ensure that pharmacy technicians are equipped with the depth and breadth of knowledge and the skills that are required of them to be responsible leaders and crucial members of the pharmacy team,” she said, adding that, over the coming weeks, APTUK would be looking at the qualification in detail and consulting with its members.

A spokesperson for the Pharmacists’ Defence Association said it would welcome measures to improve the career structure and competency development for pharmacy technicians. 

Last updated
The Pharmaceutical Journal, PJ, July 2018, Vol 301, No 7915;301(7915):DOI:10.1211/PJ.2018.20205105

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