Change on the horizon

In this second of two articles on the outlook for pharmacy technicians in 2018 and beyond, Tess Fenn considers three significant changes that pharmacy technicians will see in the coming months and years

2018 is a year of copious change. There have been three practice changes for pharmacy technicians in development over the last few years and this year sees the start of their implementation. Although they have been reported on separately in the past, I feel it is useful to bring them together in one place and highlight their significance for current pharmacy technicians and those coming into our profession in the future.

All change

In January, TM ran an article on the new ‘Standards for the initial education and training of pharmacy technicians’, which highlighted that new courses for trainee pharmacy technicians will be implemented from September 2019. The new courses will be very different from those that are currently in place. So for many of us who coach, mentor, train or assess trainee pharmacy technicians this will bring significant change that we need to understand and be prepared for.

A more pressing change is the General Pharmaceutical Council’s (GPhC) framework for revalidation, which will be introduced from 30 March 2018. Approved at the end of last year, the new framework states that instead of the nine CPD entries pharmacy professionals currently need to complete each year, we will have to complete and submit four CPD records, a record of a peer discussion and a reflective account when we renew our GPhC annual registration. For those pharmacy technicians who renew their registration by the 31 October 2018, this year they will only need to submit the CPD records. 

This is a change for all of us as GPhC registrants and there are some important timelines that we all must be aware of. For example, from April there will be a new online portal and will be going offline a few months later. This means that if you want to keep your existing CPD records, you will need to download them soon.

A long time coming

The third development this year is the ‘Draft Pharmacy (Preparation and Dispensing Errors – Registered Pharmacies) Order 2018’ that is expected to come into effect imminently. What will this mean for pharmacy technicians? It will mean that as long as certain conditions have been met, pharmacy professionals will have a defence against inadvertent dispensing errors. The conditions include that:

  • The medicine was sold or supplied by a pharmacist/pharmacy technician from registered pharmacy premises
  • The sale or supply was from a prescription or directions of the prescriber
  • The pharmacist/pharmacy technician was acting in the course of their profession 
  • The patient was promptly notified of the error, unless considered unnecessary. 

As pharmacy technicians are intrinsically involved with the assembly of medicines and accuracy checking pharmacy technicians are responsible for the accuracy of this, they may be the individual who notifies the patient of the error. Do you do this already or would this be a new experience for you? 

The aim of all of these changes is to increase patient safety by ensuring our pharmacy technician education and training is fit for the role we carry out. In addition, by ensuring that we remain fit to carry out our role and without fear of criminal prosecution, we can share and learn from any mistakes or near misses that might happen and improve our practice.

Pharmacy professionals will have a defence against inadvertent dispensing errors


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