Some 200 pharmacy technicians descended upon Wales’ capital city for two days of discussion and debate at the 61st Association of Pharmacy Technicians UK conference

Positive future for Wales

Pharmacy in Wales is no longer living on the coat-tails of England, said Andrew Evans, chief pharmaceutical officer for Wales, as he outlined how NHS Wales is taking a different approach to making the most of pharmacy. “We’re challenging pharmacy to become more efficient, but are committed to giving that efficiency back to fund service delivery and clinical roles,” Mr Evans said, adding that there is work in progress to “increase the development of pharmacy technicians to release pharmacists to deliver more clinical roles”. 

This vision stems from NHS Wales’ principles of ‘prudent healthcare’, which include: the public and healthcare professionals being equal partners; caring for those with the greatest health need first; only doing what is needed, and doing no harm; and reducing inappropriate variation.

“We have to turn these four principles into something more tangible and achieve better outcomes from medicines, a more efficient system and less medicine-related harm,” said Mr Evans.

Know your USP

“Do you know what your USP is?” was the question Margaret Allan, director, Wales CPPE, put to delegates. Ms Allan urged pharmacy professionals to understand and be clear about their own professional identities, including their scope of practice and uniqueness, in order to work effectively within multi-disciplinary teams. “Blurred roles and boundaries are not good for patients and cause mistrust with other teams,” said Ms Allan. “If we’re not clear, how can we expect others to understand and accept us?”

Ms Allan added a note of caution: “[Pharmacy professionals] need to be careful not to get dragged into everything in a rush to be accepted by other teams. We need to be clear about our identity and role and in turn we’ll gain trust and value from other professionals.”

In order to facilitate this, Ms Allan called for integrated educational programmes and a multi-sector approach to pre-registration training for pharmacy professionals. “We need to understand how other teams are involved with patients to better understand our own role,” she said. 

Work to your limits

“Working to the limits of our licence” was a key phrase throughout the two-day conference, cropping up in speeches from Tess Fenn, president of the Association of Pharmacy Technicians UK (APTUK), Andrew Evans, chief pharmaceutical officer for Wales, and Suzanne Scott-Thomas, chair of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society’s Welsh Pharmacy Board.

The message from all three speakers was simple: pharmacy professionals need to work to the top of their licence and stretch themselves, and at the same time, give up work that isn’t within their professional scope and that could be done by someone else. 

“We must all improve and advance together,” said Ms Scott-Thomas.

News in brief

A new tier of ‘associates’ is being created in APTUK’s structure to sit between its board of national officers and its members. The change is in response to increasing pressure on workloads and will help APTUK to deliver its key messages, proactively respond to changes and express views and opinions.

Andrew Evans, chief pharmaceutical officer for Wales, announced plans to re-model pre-registration training for pharmacists, which will feed into changes to pre-registration pharmacy technician training in a bid to create a flexible and competent pharmacy workforce.

Defining the role of pharmacy technicians doesn’t matter too much right now, said Rob Darracott, director, McIntosh Health Partners. “Pharmacy technicians are still a relatively young profession and doing what’s right [for patients] is more important [than defining the role].”

Some 94 per cent of pharmacies now have access to summary care records and 24,000 pharmacy professionals are trained to use them, said Mohammed Hussain, programme head for integrating pharmacy across care settings, digital medicines at NHS Digital.

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