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PDA airs ‘role substitution’ fears amid pharmacy technician reforms

The Pharmacists’ Defence Association (PDA) will submit a motion  to a group of Scottish trade unionists that "underqualified staff " should not be pressured to take on responsibilities for which they are not adequately trained.

A motion to protect patients from the “potential harm” of role substitution will be raised at Scotland’s trade union centre (STUC) congress by the PDA this month.

The union revealed yesterday (April 8) that it will be attending the STUC congress 2024 to progress three motions.

Read more: Amazing news for pharmacy technicians or a disaster waiting to happen?

One motion “seeks to ensure standards of competency” to protect patients in Scotland “from the consequences of role substitution in healthcare”.

The PDA wants to “avoid lower-paid workers being exploited by being forced to take on activities on their salaries that were previously undertaken by higher-paid colleagues”.

The motion also warns of the “potential harm from situations where there is confusion about the roles a team member undertakes or where underqualified staff are coming under pressure to undertake activity for which they are not suitably competent”.

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

And it asks that the congress push for a “financial reward”, “requisite education, training, and support” for taking on additional responsibilities, it said.

“If congress supports the PDA’s proposals, they will become the policy of the STUC”, enabling it to carry out the proposals, it explained.

The union said that the “other topics being raised by the PDA’s delegation are calls for support in getting fair work principles into community pharmacy”.


Pharmacy technician  reforms a “simple role substitution”


The motion follows concerns from the PDA regarding recent changes to the responsibilities of pharmacy technicians.

Last month, the government announced that pharmacy technicians would be able to supply medicines via PGDs and “potentially” administer vaccinations and provide consultations under Pharmacy First.

Last week, C+D reported that the PDA was “extremely disappointed” the government had “pressed ahead” regardless of the “patient safety concerns” it had made clear to them when it was consulted on the plans.

Read more: UPDATED: Pharmacy technicians to supply medicines under PGDs

“The PDA agrees that pharmacy technicians have a key role in supporting pharmacists…but what the PDA does not support is simple role substitution,” it added.

At the time, locum pharmacist Tohidul Islam told C+D that the move was “a disaster waiting to happen”.

He said: “If my family were going to a pharmacy and they were seen by a technician I would be very, very uncomfortable.”

But Association of Pharmacy Technicians UK (APTUK) president Nicola Stockmann said that the changes recognise “the value of the pharmacy technician profession”.

And the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) said that letting pharmacy technicians use PGDs “will enable the further evolution of the pharmacist’s role into more complex clinical care”. 

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