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DH 'looking at' allowing pharmacy technicians to administer COVID-19 jabs under a PGD

The Department of Health and Social Care (DH) is “looking at” adding pharmacy technicians onto the list of healthcare professionals able to administer COVID-19 vaccinations under a patient group direction (PGD), the pharmacy minister has confirmed. 

In response to a tweet calling for legislation to be changed to allow pharmacy technicians to work under a PGD, pharmacy minister Maria Caulfield confirmed “we are looking at this”.

The DH has been approached for comment.

The list of healthcare professionals who can supply and administer medicines under a PGD is operated by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) and currently includes pharmacists, but not pharmacy technicians.

But, for the first time under the 2021/22 flu vaccination service’s national protocol, trained pharmacy staff, including pharmacy technicians, can undertake stages 2, 3 and 4 of the service – vaccine preparation, vaccine administration and record keeping.

However, they may not undertake stage 1 – the patient assessment.


“Outdated legislation” limits pharmacy technicians' potential


In a joint statement published this morning (December 3) from the Association of Pharmacy Technicians UK (APTUK) and the Company Chemists' Association (CCA), the organisations said they “welcome the government's reconfirmation of [its] intention to explore the inclusion of pharmacy technicians”.

Current “outdated legislation limits” the potential of pharmacy technicians to support “the national drive to vaccinate the population”, they added.

“Growing the professional role of pharmacy technicians is a key step in meeting the challenges that the NHS faces. We support pharmacy technicians being able to administer vaccinations under a PGD, as part of their important role within the pharmacy team,” APTUK and the CCA said.

“Allowing technicians to do much more will help boost capacity in community pharmacy and also enhance the attractiveness of the technician role.” 

In June 2020, APTUK called for pharmacy technicians' inclusion on the government’s list of healthcare professionals who can supply and administer medicines under a PGD, to help combat COVID-19.

At the time, the DH responded that adding pharmacy technicians to the list would require an amendment to the Human Medicines Regulations 2012 act.

The act applies across the UK as a whole, but pharmacy technicians are regulated professionals only in England, Scotland and Wales – not in Northern Ireland – and this presents a complication, it said at the time.


One “small technical legal change” will eliminate barriers


The potential for a “much needed legislation change”, APTUK president Liz Fidler said today, “will enable the profession to deliver more patient-focused services and enable the pharmacy workforce to continue to provide the response so greatly needed at this time”.

“This will also provide recognition and a much-needed career pathway in a sector that can provide the very best care for patients and communities. Community pharmacy technicians are ready and should be enabled to do more,” she added. 

Meanwhile, CCA CEO Malcolm Harrison said that “through a small technical legal change, one more barrier to a successful COVID-19 booster programme could be eliminated and would help enhance community pharmacy capacity in the short-term”.

The CCA also supports “wider efforts to evolve the role of pharmacy technicians”, he added, “enabling them to take on additional roles which would enable pharmacists to deliver further clinical services”. 

During a Downing Street news conference on Tuesday (November 30), Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced that COVID-19 booster doses will now be administered at “more than 1,500 community pharmacy sites”, as well as at extra hospital hubs and mobile vaccination units. An additional 400 military personnel will also be deployed to help with the rollout.

Are you/your pharmacy involved in the COVID-19 vaccination programme? Share your experiences on the C+D Community

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