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Pharmacy technicians accused of ‘landgrab’ on pharmacist role

The UK Association of Pharmacy Technicians has been accused of being “overly ambitious,” with the Pharmacists’ Defence Association claiming its proposed competency framework represents an attempted “landgrab” on primary care pharmacists’ roles.

The draft national competency framework (NCF) for general practice pharmacy technicians was published by APTUK and the Primary Care Pharmacists Association in September this year. It concentrates on four areas of practice, including clinical governance, medicines optimisation and leadership.

The PDA, which in 2019 published a controversial report claiming that pharmacy technicians should not be viewed as healthcare professionals, said the NCF has “the potential to cause patient harm” as it sets out a professional role for individuals “whose training and experience has prepared them for a level 3 technical role” [pharmacy technicians have been classed as registered healthcare professionals since 2011]. 

In its response to the NCF proposals the PDA said: “This NCF seems to want to bypass due process in its rush to landgrab as many roles as it can for a membership which is not adequately trained or ready.

“By being overly ambitious it may have serious patient safety implications and over the longer term it may hinder the development of roles for technicians.”

For example, the PDA believes the NCF “seems to suggest” that pharmacy technicians could play an instrumental role in structured medication reviews rather than supporting pharmacists to carry them out.

The PDA referred to “limitations” in the training pharmacy technicians receive, saying that while their NVQ level 3 diploma assesses whether they can adhere to SOPs, the regulations for registered pharmacies stipulate that SOPs must be set by the responsible pharmacist.

The PDA made recommendations such as requiring primary care pharmacy technicians to sit an exam set by the GPhC “in order to work at higher competency levels”. This would “effectively become a ‘pre-reg’ exam,” said the PDA.

It called for the competency framework to be scrapped and redrawn “to reflect the support role that technicians can perform in supporting pharmacists to support GPs”.

APTUK has been approached for comment.

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