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GPhC to 'assess' pharmacy technician minimum training levels

The pharmacy regulator has revealed that it will consider whether new standards for trainee and registered pharmacy technicians are needed in the sector’s “changing landscape”.

The General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) will “assess” whether pharmacy technicians’ minimum training requirements are still “appropriate” given the profession’s growing scope of practice, according to papers prepared for the regulator’s April 18 council meeting.

The regulator said that it was considering whether its standards are “equipping” trainee pharmacy technicians for their “developing roles and responsibilities”.

It added that it must ensure that it does “not water down the necessary standard” while also “recognising the aim to expand the workforce”.

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

It follows the government’s plans to permit pharmacy technicians to supply and administer medicines under patient group directions (PGDs) and possible changes to supervision rules.

At present, pharmacy technicians are trained to national qualifications framework (NQF) level three in England and Wales and to level six in Scotland's qualifications and credit framework.

 

Discussion paper will “spark debate”

 

According to the papers prepared by its chief strategy officer and deputy registrar Mark Voce, the GPhC is committed to running a consultation on new initial education and training standards for pharmacy technicians by the end of the year.

As part of this consultation, it will produce a discussion paper on “future standards” that will “spark debate about the changing role of pharmacy technicians, it said.

The “changing landscape” also has implications for the “relevant experience and qualifications” of registered pharmacy technicians, it added.

Read more: PDA airs ‘role substitution’ fears amid pharmacy technician reforms

The regulator’s new standards should include mention that pharmacy technicians should not be “expected or pressurised to work beyond their scope of practice”, it said. 

The papers also announced that the regulator will host a webinar discussing the findings of its pharmacy technician research in May.

The new assessment follows the regulator’s release of research on pharmacy technician training and education last month that found that its standards must remain “up-to-date” with any role changes.

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

Voce said at the time 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”. 

In March, the Pharmacists’ Defence Association (PDA) came out strongly against the government’s PGD proposals for pharmacy technicians, saying that the profession’s “underpinning knowledge” was “just too low”.

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

The union said that the “additional training requirements” that a healthcare professional must complete before using a PGD are “not a substitute” for the knowledge required to make a “clinical assessment” on whether to supply or administer the medicine.

But despite the PDA’s opposition, the government announced the “new powers” for pharmacy technicians following a consultation launched in August on allowing pharmacy technicians to supply medicines under PGDs. 

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