Views on vaccine administration
With vaccination being the healthcare buzzword of the moment when it comes to flu and Covid-19, Liz Fidler explains why pharmacy technicians’ involvement is crucial
The world has significantly changed since March and I have been watching with interest how pharmacy technicians’ practice has responded globally. There is acknowledgement regarding the significant contribution the profession can make at this time and beyond. I, personally and in my capacity as president of APTUK, will continue to raise the profile and ensure that the skills, knowledge and expertise of pharmacy technicians is recognised and valued.
Previously, I have spoken about the key ambition of pharmacy technicians being able to supply and administer medicines via a Patient Group Direction (PGD) as one of the healthcare providers listed. As registered professionals, I believe pharmacy technicians across the sectors, with the appropriate PGD training and governance infrastructure, have the necessary underpinning knowledge, experience and professional accountability to take on this important role.
I recognise that this requires legislation change and does not happen overnight, but I am anxious that this may become a missed opportunity. The pharmacy sector is facing many changes and reforms, which are welcomed, but I am keen to ensure that pharmacy technicians are integral and not forgotten.
I personally will continue to work with key partners to ensure that this important legislation change is not left behind and is seen as a priority. Otherwise, it would be a huge mistake, in my opinion, as pharmacy services would be left out of kilter with other professions; not good for service, business or, most importantly, patients.
Time is of the essence
Whilst the PGD work continues, you may have seen the Department of Health and Social Care consultation on vaccine administration. It will come as no surprise to you that I am in full support of pharmacy technicians providing this critical service. I am frustrated that a suggested route appears to be via a Patient Specific Direction, as this limits the contribution and value to patients and service. I do recognise that this route may be achieved quickly, and support the profession with responding quickly, but I do not want this to overshadow where the biggest impact can be made.
I question why pharmacy appears to build in extra barriers. I can only imagine the impact delivering this service is having and how it must seem nonsensical to have pharmacists solely administering vaccines when expertise and knowledge could be focused on providing the clinical services. I would strongly encourage discussions on appropriate skill mix. I have seen several social media posts where the number of vaccines administered is being equated with health service quality – this worries me as it feeds the challenge of being numbers and not patient focused. Again, I recognise the numbers needed to be vaccinated and I am not taking away from that, but in my opinion the system is taking too long.
I absolutely recognise and will continue to lobby those organisations with accountability for the correct governance framework, education and indemnity to be in place, but will also seek parity with other registered healthcare professionals.
Never has it been more critical to ensure that people understand the role of pharmacy technicians and what they can deliver. Please do continue to work with employers and colleagues to educate and challenge positively, with the patient at the heart of what you do.
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