In this first of two articles on the outlook for pharmacy technicians in 2018 and beyond, Tess Fenn considers the focus for APTUK as pharmacy technicians’ professional leadership body

Now that 2018 is in full swing, it’s time to put our reflection from the last few months into action and the Association of Pharmacy Technicians UK (APTUK) has been doing just that.

We’ve started our year by looking forward, not just at 2018, but beyond to 2021. To help us with this, and to plan our strategy, we held an event on the 20 January, looking at ‘APTUK Professional Leadership with a Purpose: Our next three years’. We brought together our professional committee, members, as well as a number of pharmacy technicians and key organisations, to help us explore our profession, the role of the Association and how we can support pharmacy technicians in their practice and career.

One of the workshops asked questions such as: what enhanced roles will pharmacy technicians carry out in the near future? What will the future educational needs be for these roles? What is unique about the pharmacy technician role? And what tasks do we currently carry out that could be delegated to release our time so that we can take on other tasks and allow pharmacists to carry out more clinically focused activities?

Patient safety

With patient safety being the overarching theme of our event, we looked at how pharmacy technicians’ roles, both now and in the coming years, can influence patient safety. We know that errors can occur at different stages of the medication use process, so at what points can pharmacy technician intervention have a significant outcome?

The World Health Organization (WHO) ‘Medication Without Harm Global Patient Safety Challenge’ stated that there is a one in 300 chance of a patient being harmed during healthcare compared to a one in 1,000,000 chance of a traveller being harmed while in an aircraft – certainly food for thought.

WHO indicates that ‘patient and community engagement and empowerment are key’ to reducing errors. So what can pharmacy technicians do to support this communication?

Whilst exploring these questions, we were in no doubt that 2018 will continue to bring copious change as many sector developments start to be implemented, including new guidelines for the initial education and training of pharmacy technicians, the General Pharmaceutical Council’s framework for revalidation and the ‘Draft Pharmacy (Preparation and Dispensing Errors – Registered Pharmacies) Order 2018’. 

As we progress towards publishing our 2018-2021 strategy, APTUK will support our members through these changes, as well as advocate the development of the leadership skills our profession requires for the future.

Next month, I’ll look at these three significant changes for pharmacy technicians in more detail.

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