With the consultation on the pharmacy technician qualification now closed, Tess Fenn discusses APTUK’s response

Myself and the Association have been busy responding to the consultation on the new proposed and drafted pharmacy technician qualification. This is a tremendously exciting development for the profession and hopes to bring our qualification up to date to support the requirements of our evolving future roles. 

You may remember that TM reported back in May that the development was underway and this would meet the revised General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) Initial Education & Training Standards for Pharmacy Technicians (IET). The qualification is planned to be ready for new pre-registration trainee pharmacy technicians (PTPT) to take from September 2019, so not long to go.

The proposed new qualification consists of 25 individual units and the consultation asked responders to consider replying to all of these. 

The consultation also stated that the qualification would be:

  • A single qualification to reflect the requirements of a blended course  
  • Reflective of the knowledge and skills required for a day one pharmacy technician regardless of their working environment and include the underpinning knowledge requirements with a focus on science knowledge to reflect the patient centric standards
  • Based on the National Occupational Standards relevant to the role where available
  • Reflect any apprenticeship policy requirements as determined by the Institute for Apprenticeships
  • Meet the GPhC Evidence Framework for Initial Education and Training Course Providers.

APTUK responds

APTUK quickly sprang into action by holding two webinars and by creating a survey focusing on specific units that were grouped together. 

Our response was generally supportive of the units contained within the qualification, apart from a gap in the knowledge of how medicines are produced and manufactured. However, APTUK felt that there was an inconsistent approach across the units in the style, the quantity and quality of content and indicative syllabus and also the depth and breadth of the learning required for safe pharmacy practice. 

Most of the learning outcomes in the GPhC IET standards are at level 4 of the established competence and assessment hierarchy known as Miller’s triangle (see diagram, right).

Level 4 of the competence and assessment hierarchy relates to a day one registrant being able to act independently and consistently when carrying out a task. APTUK identified and voiced that many of the draft units and their related learning outcomes were not drafted at this level. We recommended that the units undergo a significant review to ensure pharmacy technicians are adequately trained and assessed to deliver person-centred pharmacy services of the future. 

Once this qualification is developed, submitted, approved and accredited by the GPhC and the Office of Qualifications and Examinations Regulation (OFQAL), it will most probably be in place for the next five to eight years. So we need to get it right.

We now enthusiastically await the outcome of the new qualification draft units’ consultation and the final qualification – watch this space!

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