The word professional “must not be used in reference to pharmacy technicians”, the Pharmacists’ Defence Association (PDA) has claimed in a wide-ranging report on the role of this workforce published in full on 4 March. The PDA proposes that the Government instead creates a ‘practitioner’ status for them that would include scope for career progression.
The 250-page document, which has taken three years to complete, forms part of the PDA’s long-term strategy for UK pharmacy and was prompted by the Government looking into how the community pharmacy skill mix can help relieve wider NHS pressures – including “placing emphasis on the greater utilisation of pharmacy technicians”. The PDA claims it has set out a “sensible” path to achieving this by addressing “unspoken problems” in the sector.
The report proposes an “improved, enhanced career structure” for pharmacy technicians that would allow them to progress from a standard ‘practitioner’ status to an ‘advanced practitioner’ status.
“The emergence of such a framework based on quality, skills, qualifications and experience and with commensurate salary levels could ultimately” lead to them taking more responsibility, the PDA says.
However, this must only be implemented if similar career development policies are introduced for community pharmacists, the PDA adds. The Association is calling for a “symbiotic, complementary and effective skill mix model” for both workforces, with “rewarding career frameworks” supported by skills and salary escalators.
Any such plans must have buy-in from both pharmacists and pharmacy technicians and must not be mandated “by civil service edict,” the report says.
Responding to the report and defending the pharmacy technician profession, Liz Fidler, president, Association of Pharmacy Technicians UK (APTUK), said: “APTUK values the expertise and professionalism of all pharmacy technicians working across all sectors. APTUK is committed to supporting the professional development of the pharmacy technician workforce and encouraging pharmacy professionals to work collaboratively for the benefit of patients, public, pharmacy professions and our members.”
The GPhC said the question of pharmacy technicians’ professional status was a matter for the Department of Health and Social Care in England and the Scottish Government Health and Social Care Directorate, who legislated to introduce the professional regulation of pharmacy technicians in 2010 on the advice of ministers.