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Calls to include pharmacy technicians in PGD to help fight COVID-19

APTUK: Pharmacy technicians’ skills should be used to combat COVID-19
APTUK: Pharmacy technicians’ skills should be used to combat COVID-19

To help combat COVID-19, pharmacy technicians are calling for inclusion on the government’s list of healthcare professionals who can supply and administer medicines under a PGD.

The Association of Pharmacy Technicians (APTUK) said giving pharmacy technicians patient group direction (PGD) status would allow them to be “an invaluable resource” in the immunisation process, once a vaccine for COVID-19 has been developed.

APTUK president Liz Fidler said the organisation believes “the introduction of the Coronavirus Act 2020 provides the opportunity to utilise the skills of pharmacy technicians to build…the number of healthcare workers able to support imminent mass vaccination programmes”.

Adding pharmacy technicians to the list ahead of a COVID-19 vaccine being available would “enable effective training to be undertaken and the correct governance procedures to be embedded”, Ms Fidler added.  

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 includes pharmacists, but not pharmacy technicians.

Contribute to COVID-19 healthcare response 

APTUK has lobbied for pharmacy technicians to be added to the list since 2017. The reason for once again highlighting the issue now is to ensure pharmacy technicians are able to “contribute to supporting the healthcare response to COVID-19 and beyond”, Ms Fidler said. The association has presented its case for change to “key enabling organisations”, she added.

According to information from the Department of Health and Social Care, adding pharmacy technicians to the list of healthcare professionals who can supply or administer medicines to patients under a PGD would require an amendment to the Human Medicines Regulations 2012 act.

As the act applies across the UK as a whole while pharmacy technicians are regulated professionals only in England, Scotland and Wales – not in Northern Ireland – this presents a complication.

‘A now or never point’

Samantha Quaye, pharmacy business and performance manager at Barts Health NHS Trust in London, is a pharmacy technician who supports calls for the change.

Ms Quaye told C+D yesterday (June 11) that the change was needed now because “we are on the verge of a mass vaccination programme” and “the uptake of flu vaccines is also likely to increase this year because of COVID-19 and people wanting to prevent illness”.

“This is an overdue change in legislation and the Coronavirus Act is a now or never point. It would be a real game changer [for] public health and patient safety,” she said.  

“At the moment pharmacy is being asked to signpost back to primary care, but with the best will in the world, there is not the capacity within general practice to deliver the number of vaccines that are going to be required.

“Pharmacists are able to [give vaccinations], but they are of limited staff and are going to be the frontline people advising at the counter. So why not delegate the authority to pharmacy technicians?” she added.  

Current solutions are a “workaround” 

Ms Quaye, who works in secondary care, said there are some existing opportunities for pharmacy technicians to help with vaccinations by using a patient specific direction (PSD), but these are a “workaround” and “not the right way to do it”.

“Last year for the flu vaccination programme, we [Barts Health] introduced pharmacy technicians to the flu vaccinators group through a PSD,” she said.

“However, this involves a prescriber taking the responsibility of assessing people and putting them on a list of people for the pharmacy technician to be able to [help with vaccinations]. So that’s another reason why PGD status [would be useful],” Ms Quaye added.

12 Comments
Question: 
What do you make of the proposal?

Pharma Tech, Pharmacy technician

I have worked in a community pharmacy for over 10 years, I started as a Healthcare assistant & worked my way up & now I am a Pharmacy Tech. 
I would like to say I personally do not want to administer a vaccine. In my opinion we as technicians have many jobs to do as it is & don't think we need this to add to it. From what I have seen in my years of working in a community pharmacy disgusts me. Pharmacists that are pharmacy managers don't really do much, avoid awkward customers & pass on workload to the likes of the ACTs or Pharmacy Techs while they sit about on their phones. I have to say this seems to be a running theme with newly qualified locums that seem to think they are here for the day & the little work they do is fine - doesn't matter if their is a load of patients waiting for their script their tea/coffee time comes first if it's not that then they are on their phones... like hello is this why you went to the trouble of a degree
 

 

Crazy Pharmacist , Community pharmacist

Pharma Tech I for one as a pharmacist for 26years tend to disagree with you . Yes there are many locums who may just turn up and check prescriptions.who wouldn't we're not labellers or dispensers . Do you not understand what a Pharmacist does ? Many technicians and dispensers do not even follow proper procedures when labelling prescriptions especially acutes eg flagging up interactions to pharmacist ,changed doses or new medicines putting the safety of a patient at risk . After all it is the RP that is accountable for all medicines that leave the pharmacy and rightly so takes the flack for any mistakes that are made . However many people are involved in mistakes and most others couldn't care less . So get off you high horse support your locums and pharmacists guide them in what work is needs to be done in your work place . If they don't know they can't do it . As for giving a vaccine a monkey could do it but as professionals with a degree covering a hell of a lot more than you will ever do we will continue to give the vaccines and delegate work as appropriate and you as a tech will continue to assemble prescriptions and medi dose boxes and administer methadone . All in a safe and efficient manner and understand what actually goes through a pharmacists head when they are checking prescriptions 

 

 

Crazy Pharmacist , Community pharmacist

Looking at the quality of the technician course undertaken in community pharmacy especially the multiples technicians do NOT do anymore once they are qualified. A lot of the time they undertake the course just to get a wage increase . What extra can they do in community pharmacy rather than dispense? Same with ACTs they seem to be on a power trip because they have managed to check so many items without a mistake and I find it makes all members of staff dillusional on as to what our role actually entails . Do not let technicians or ACTs work under a PGD to administer vaccines . This is not play school 

Soon-To-Be Ex-Pharmacist, Superintendent Pharmacist

This is just another bit of the cliff face that is the Pharmacist role being eroded away - the house that was our role in PGD supply is about to tumble into the sea and get washed away forever. Pretty soon now, the whole concept of 'Pharmacist' will have gone, with the body divided up between GPs, techs and ACTs

Chris Locum, Locum pharmacist

It might have had merit if several thousand pharmacists had died from Covid. Thankfully, there was no such carnage. However, it is not necessary. It just provides an excuse to circumvent the presence of the RP and instigate remote supervision via some supposed extraneous circumstances.

Female Tech, Pharmacy technician

No reason why technicians can't administer flu vaccines. Some of the arguments above are the same ones doctors used when the idea of pharmacists doing vaccines was first mooted.

 

Soon-To-Be Ex-Pharmacist, Superintendent Pharmacist

Any Tom, Dick or Harry can administer the flu vaccine with the briefest of training. It isn't difficult. The complaint is that this measure turns us into counter assistants (nothing against counter staff but thet's not what I went through a degree to become) but seeing as I'm getting out of pharmacy ASAP, I'm not really that bothered. I'll be gone before the flu season starts.

Leon The Apothecary, Student

I see no reason why a Pharmacy Technician, with training, cannot administer an IM injection such as a flu vaccination.

N O, Pharmaceutical Adviser

In addtion to the regular Pharmacist, along side, to reduce the burden -- YES.

But, replace the Pharmacist so the Pharmacist can attend the counter -- NO.

Leon The Apothecary, Student

Absolutely, it should always be a net addition. A replacement does not benefit pharmacy nor the patient.

N O, Pharmaceutical Adviser

“Pharmacists are able to [give vaccinations], but they are of limited staff and are going to be the frontline people advising at the counter. So why not delegate the authority to pharmacy technicians?”

What a novel idea.

So, if I undestand correctly, the Pharmacist who is already qualified, trained and has done several vaccinations in the past, should be serving at the counter giving advice to people (god knows on what) while the PharmTech (after getting trained) vaccinates people in the Consultation Room?? Hmmmmmm, why did I beocme a Pharmacist and not just a PharmTech??

N O, Pharmaceutical Adviser

Do we have any association for Pharmacy Counter staff, Dispensing Staff, Pharmacy Delivery Drivers etc ?? Just in case we run out of people to administer the PGD due to COVID-19, we might as well ask these people to be included as well.

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