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Pharmacy technician roles in PCNs to be fully reimbursed from April

Pharmacy technicians will support medication reviews as part of their roles in PCNs
Pharmacy technicians will support medication reviews as part of their roles in PCNs

Pharmacy technicians are among the six new roles that will be fully reimbursed by NHS England for their work in primary care networks (PCNs) as part of the new GP contract.

From April, GP practices will be refunded the costs of employing a pharmacy technician as part of the Additional Roles Reimbursement Scheme (ARRS), according to the GP contract agreement published yesterday (February 6).

GP leaders have agreed with NHS England that all roles “will be reimbursed 100% of actual salary”, whereas the NHS had previously pledged to cover 70% of the cost of professionals employed through the ARRS.

An extra 6,000 staff – which already included clinical pharmacists and now also covers pharmacy technicians – have been added to the initial 20,000 roles made available within PCNs.

Pharmacy technicians cap

Due to “workforce supply constraints”, each PCN is not expected to hire more than one pharmacy technician under the scheme in 2020-21 and 2021-22, “or two in those PCNs with a population of over 100,000 patients”, the British Medical Association (BMA) said in the contract.

However, this limitation is “unnecessary” if the local clinical commissioning group “confirms that local supply constraints are not an issue”.

NHS England has capped the maximum annual reimbursement rate for pharmacy technicians at £35,389.

“Important role”

The GP contract provides a description for the six new roles that have been added to the scheme, which also include health and wellbeing coaches; care coordinators; podiatrists; dieticians; and occupational therapists.

“Pharmacy technicians play an important role, complementing clinical pharmacists, community pharmacists and other members of the PCN multi-disciplinary team,” the BMA said.

Pharmacy technicians will have “clinical, technical, and administrative” responsibilities – including carrying out medicines optimisation tasks, and supporting medication reviews and medicines reconciliations, according to the contract.

They are also expected to supervise “practice reception teams in sorting and streaming general prescription requests, so as to allow GPs and clinical pharmacists to review the more clinically complex requests,” the BMA added.

“Workforce capacity”

Liz Fidler, president of the Association of Pharmacy Technicians UK (APTUK) said the organisation welcomes the decision to broaden the ARRS to include pharmacy technicians.

“We are keen to ensure that we build the additional workforce capacity to ensure a sustainable pipeline for the future. Pharmacy technicians have the appropriate knowledge and skills to enhance patient care in primary care.

“APTUK has been working with the Primary Care Pharmacy Association and key partners such as Health Education England and the Royal College of General Practitioners to develop a UK wide education framework to support the upskilling of the current workforce, to fully utilise [their] skills and knowledge in primary care roles.”

Speaking at the APTUK conference last year, three representatives from NHS England said discussions to add pharmacy technicians to the “PCN reimbursable workforce” were underway.

At the same conference, NHS England’s deputy chief pharmaceutical officer Richard Cattell said it will be a “really big challenge” to recruit the planned 7,500 clinical pharmacists to PCNs. Mr Cattell made his comments before the Conservative party pledged to recruit 6,000 more pharmacists, nurses and physiotherapists to work in GP surgeries by 2025 as part of its 2019 election manifesto.

What do you make of NHS England's decision to fully fund pharmacy technicians in PCNs?

Richard Judge, Manager

So rather than including Community Pharmacy in PCNs NHS England have decided to take pharmacy out of the community.

ABC DEF, Primary care pharmacist

Told you all ages ago that NHS plot has always been destroying the community pharmacy sector, drive everyone out to primary care, and move onto an automated hub and spoke central dispensing model with remote supervision. This is a wake-up call to those who refuse to accept this is the truth and reluctant to adapt. I seriously urge you to rethink and get out of the dying, if not already dead community sector while you still can!

Leon The Apothecary, Student

Pharmacy services needed to metamorphose for a long time now into the modern era. Almost everything in a dispensary can be automated, and the rest remote accessed.

David Miller, Hospital pharmacist

The salary includes NHS employment costs and seems based on band 5 salary of around 30k no newly qualified pharmacist at band 6 would be on this salary s the overlap has gone. Indemnity arrangements are available for professional working in GP practices.

If similar to the pharmacist scheme the clinical competencies will be defined and a suitable training provision to ensure a minimum standard will be implemented. It is all a question of obtaining the right value and ensuring the right practitioners deliver the right outcomes

Sunil Kumar, Community pharmacist

100% Salary reimbursements  -               PSNC needs to learn from this negotiation. NHS always finds extra funds except for ..... 



N O, Pharmaceutical Adviser

"""NHS England has capped the maximum annual reimbursement rate for pharmacy technicians at £35,389.""

WHAT??? I think now most of the NEWLY QUALIFIED pharmacists will apply for this role, straight away.

Leon The Apothecary, Student

About £17 an hour, isn't it?

Caroline Jones, Community pharmacist

Indeed! I also wonder what the ‘clinical’ role will be? If an autonomous clinical role, will appropriate indemnity insurance cover this - it’s hard enough getting this insurance as a Pharmacist would is deemed to have had the ‘clinical training’ etc

Community Pharmacist, Community pharmacist

No disrispect intended for ACTs, however to qualify as one, the exam consists of checking items only. No clinical knowledge/Rx legality + appopriatness checks needed to pass it.

More training will be neededed to meet this ACT clinical role.

Leon The Apothecary, Student

Just a quick point to clarify, an ACT is the same clinical grade as a Technician, it's a bit like calling a Pharmacist and an MUR Pharmacist as two different things. It's an extension of a Technician.

From what it looks like, there's not a lot of accuracy checking that is likely to be undertaken in this role. I guess another way of phrasing it would be synchronizing medicine cycles, highlighting inappropriate medicines for review with a clinical pharmacist, and streamlining the prescription process generally in general practice.

I do agree however, there should be a clear scope of practice for Technicians to work within.

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