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GPhC pharmacy technician standards must ‘keep pace’ with changing role

A GPhC-commissioned report on pharmacy technician training and education has found that the profession feels “well-prepared” to carry out its role, but that standards must remain “up-to-date” with any role changes.

The General Pharmaceutical Council’s (GPhC) training and education standards for pharmacy technicians must “keep pace” with and “enable” changes to the profession’s scope of practice, a report released by the regulator this week (March 19) has found.

The report, written by consultancy ICF and the University of Manchester’s centre for pharmacy workforce studies on behalf of the GPhC, looked at the effect that the regulator’s 2017 overhaul of its training and education standards for pharmacy technicians had on the profession.

Read more: PDA: Pharmacy technician qualification levels ‘too low’ to handle PGDs

Researchers shared an online survey with all 933 pharmacy technicians on the GPhC register who had registered since 2021 and “trained under one of the new qualifications meeting the 2017 standards” in June and July last year.

They received a “broadly representative” sample of 142 responses from pharmacy technicians and conducted interviews with employers and course providers.

 

“Well-prepared”

 

Pharmacy technicians reported high levels of “preparedness” following training, with 72% rating themselves as “well-prepared” by the standards of training. 

The report noted differences in experience between pharmacy technicians trained in community pharmacy and in hospital pharmacy. 

Just 11% of community pharmacy pre-registration trainee pharmacy technicians received face-to-face teaching compared to 34% of hospital-based pharmacy technicians. 

Read more: NHSE reveals new pharmacy technician CPhO fellowship role

Nevertheless, more pharmacy technicians in the community (82%) reported feeling “well prepared for practice” than those in hospital pharmacy (64%).

The report recommended that the regulator should “further clarify” the importance of “training across different sectors” and engage with employers across sectors to remove “some of the longstanding inconsistencies” in pre-registration pharmacy technicians' training experiences.

The GPhC should set out “expectations of learning time and multi-sector training…in particular for community pharmacy”, it added.

 

Standards must be clearer

 

According to the report, its findings “provide insights” into how the revised standards were implemented and whether they are “fit for purpose” or need to be revised.

The report recommended that the regulator should “clarify” its standards to ensure “consistent supervision” and protected learning time for trainees.

It said that accuracy checking requirements “specifically” should be made clearer.

Read more: UPDATED: DH launches consultation for pharmacy technicians to use PGDs

GPhC chief strategy officer Mark Voce said that it is “essential” to keep pharmacy technician education and training “up-to-date” and reflective of “changes in pharmacy practice”.

He said that the regulator would use the report’s findings and recommendations in its “ongoing regulatory work” on pharmacy technician education and for the post-registration “assurance of practice”. 

On Monday (March 18), C+D reported that the Pharmacists’ Defence Association (PDA) had told MPs that government proposals to allow pharmacy technicians to supply medicines under PGDs would leave patients “structurally exposed”.

Read more: Pharmacy technicians granted powers to deliver more clinical services

Pharmacy technicians’ “underpinning knowledge” is “just too low” to safely use PGDs, the PDA said.

Association of Pharmacy Technicians UK (APTUK) president Nicola Stockmann told C+D at the time that the proposals would allow “widening of healthcare access” and the “professional recognition of pharmacy technicians”, adding that the consultation “must be recognised for the opportunity it is”. 

She added that pharmacy technicians are “held to the same professional standards as pharmacists”. 

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