Liz Fidler discusses the need for the pharmacy technician profession to raise its profile over the coming months
Personally, I have felt that the last 18 months have been a bubble and it’s been about getting through – there’s been little time to consider the future and what it will bring. But as the schools go back, autumn energises me to think about the coming year and I feel that despite all the challenges, the profession is about to embark on something new and exciting. History is littered with examples of how things have progressed and modernised following a period of challenge or crisis.
The healthcare workforce challenges provide a real opportunity for the pharmacy technician profession to build on the plethora of transferable skills and the ability to support patients with making the most of their medicines. I feel the profession is not being enabled to deliver all that it can, not as part of some conspiracy, but due to circumstance. I feel that the last 18 months have provided the backdrop to demonstrate what we can do and now the barriers need to be taken down for the sake of patients and pharmacy services. Now is the time to develop strategy and make sure everyone knows what a pharmacy technician is and what they can do.
I remain committed to championing the much-needed legislation change on Patient Group Directions (PGDs), whilst discussions on vaccination and immunisation programmes rumble on. We need to ensure that as many healthcare professionals as possible are enabled to utilise their skills fully. Pharmacy technicians have demonstrated their expertise and leadership – recognised and valued by other healthcare professionals. The pressures on primary care, which community pharmacy is integral to, need us to look at skill mix and invest in new pre-registration trainee pharmacy technician posts. Sectors need to work collaboratively to retain and make the professional career choice a rewarding one so that all parties see a return on their investment, whether that be time or financially.
Without system-wide work in this area, the new pharmacist initial education and training standards will not, in my opinion, become a reality. Supply will define the pharmacy profession in some sectors and clinical services will be difficult to deliver if we don’t have a skilled, trusted team.
Raising the profile
I’ve been reflecting on what the pharmacy technician profession could achieve if it had the same infrastructures in place that our pharmacist colleagues enjoy, and there are so many opportunities.
APTUK will continue to drive the profession’s agenda, but we need the pharmacy technician profession to stand proud and create and utilise opportunities to showcase what we do – we are responsible for raising our profile.
So, next time you see an article about the healthcare workforce, why not contact your local MP and tell them what a great job you do and what you could do if the profession was better enabled. And as Pharmacy Technician Day approaches, look out for information on how to celebrate and spread the word on 19 October and beyond about the amazing work our profession does. With 2021 marking the 10-year anniversary of registration in England, Scotland and Wales, this is our year to really be proud. Keep doing the amazing things you do for patients and communities!