Equality and inclusivity and Patient Group Directions are just two of the things APTUK has been focusing on during lockdown, as Liz Fidler explains
I’m not sure whether you feel the same, but time is certainly not standing still, and life feels even busier than before the pandemic. Apologies as I missed my column last month, which was a huge shame for me as I enjoy writing it, but life, work (the day job) took over.
This caused me to reflect on how, during times like this (whatever this is!), we often pause the things we enjoy as we feel we need to meet other deadlines and requirements. As a voluntary board at APTUK, we have always had to make decisions on what we deliver and attend on behalf of our members, as the balance between honouring our board commitments and employment has always been there. Sense checking why we are prioritsing one thing over another and always considering what the right thing is for the profession are second nature, but the last few months have been hugely difficult as the volume of meetings during the working day and the need for professional representation has rocketed.
I wanted to take the opportunity to share a few reflections on what APTUK, as your professional leadership body, has been delivering for members and wider profession during the pandemic – its pretty impressive, if I do say so myself, for an organisation that paused business as usual. I will also pose some difficult questions for peers, stakeholders, members, and non-members of the pharmacy technician profession – not to cause any issues but just to prompt debate – so it might be worth having a cup of tea to hand.
Equality and inclusivity
One thing I want to share is the commitment recently published by APTUK on our support for the #BlackLivesMatter movement. The devasting events in America and in the UK led to APTUK holding a mirror up to ourselves as an organisation and as individual leaders of the profession. You can view our full statement here. I hope that you will join me in reflection and action as the commitment outlines the action we will take as an organisation.
In addition, we have been working with a range of organisations and have contributed to guidance and future discussions for example:
- Attended NHS England roundtable events and Public Health England meetings to discuss the report ‘Beyond the data – Understanding the impact of Covid-19 on BAME communities’
- Reviewed the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) Equality and Inclusion report, which helped shape our own thinking around an organisation response and future work proposals
- Produced a joint statement with the UK Black Pharmacists Association and RPS (who led the work) ‘Our expectations for the protections of all pharmacy staff, including black, Asian and minority ethnic communities in pharmacy’.
Patient Group Directions
I know that you will be more aware than me of the need to have robust immunisation plans in place as we head to flu season and hopefully a Covid-19 vaccination. APTUK has been lobbying to enable pharmacy technicians to use their knowledge and skills and be on the list of healthcare professionals able to supply and administer vaccinations, amongst other opportunities, should they choose to. The change in legislation with robust education and governance structures would enable pharmacy technicians to further contribute to services and patient care and help provide a career framework, particularly in community pharmacy.
If you want to find out more, please have a look at our document: Pharmacy Technicians and Patient Group Directions – COVID-19 Preparedness.
I am delighted to have been asked by TM to be a judge for their prestigious Recognition of Excellence Awards. The nominations are in my inbox and I am setting aside some quality time to review each one. It is so motivating to see the nominations reflect the amazing work undertaken. I really enjoy reading them and it is a humbling experience.
I just wish we could reward all pharmacy technicians and support staff as the contributions are often overlooked. Thank you for all you do!
During the pandemic, APTUK paused business as usual, although I am sure you can sense we have never been busier and never delivered more for the profession. Its been difficult balancing it all, as many of our volunteers focused on their clinical work and stepped away from APTUK responsibilities. APTUK is a company registered with Companies House and therefore requires a lot to keep it running. I cannot thank those that supported APTUK to continue providing Covid-19 activity during a pandemic enough. We have been here for members representing, lobbying, and providing professional development tools. I am delighted to say our membership has increased week on week – I get a sense that this is linked to the professional pride we should all feel at this time.
The Board has met and we are currently drafting our ‘Restart plans’ and we will be communicating these soon – so keep an eye out.
I said earlier that I would pose some tricky questions, so here goes….
Questions for the profession:
- Have you ever considered what it would mean to not have a professional leadership body for pharmacy technicians?
- Have you considered how the profession would be represented without the committed pharmacy technician volunteer leaders?
If you answered ‘no’, please do think about it and consider joining us. With growth in our membership, we could do so much more.
A question for stakeholders:
- When you are developing services, promoting the pharmacy profession and thanking colleagues, are you inclusive?
If you answered ‘no’, please let’s make sure we reflect on that as we all restart. This is a chance to consider pharmacy technician expertise, funding and equality and inclusion opportunities. Let’s stop dividing the profession – we are ONE team.
And on that note, I will sign off – stay well and speak soon.