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APTUK president: Pharmacy technicians can get more qualifications to help patients

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APTUK president: Pharmacy technicians can get more qualifications to help patients

The Association of Pharmacy Technicians UK president Nicola Stockmann told the Clinical Pharmacy Congress that although “critical analysis” of their education and training is “welcome,” her profession is versatile enough to improve and adapt to meet patients’ needs in the coming years.

Stockmann (pictured) told the event on Friday that pharmacy technicians should challenge anyone who does not think they should go on courses to improve their knowledge and skills and those who believe their education and training is set in stone and should not be revised to allow them to progress.

Last month, the General Pharmaceutical Council said it would consult on new initial education and training standards for pharmacy technicians later this year in light of the Government’s decision to allow them to supply and administer medicines under patient group directions as well as its consultation on supervision. That consultation proposed enabling pharmacists to authorise pharmacy technicians to carry out or supervise others carrying out, preparing, assembling, dispensing, selling and supplying medicines.

Stockmann insisted the view that “we’ve got the education and training, that’s it, we’re never going to review it, that’s what it is, we’re not going to see what’s needed for services or anything like that” was “quite a limiting perspective.”

She did not mention the Pharmacists’ Defence Association, who have arguably made the most noise about concerns over the education and training of pharmacy technicians, but she appeared to be directly responding to concerns the PDA has aired in recent years over their increasing role in pharmacy teams.

In March, the PDA wrote to the pharmacy minister Andrea Leadsom to express its concern that pharmacy technicians being given certain clinical roles and enjoying “parity of esteem” with pharmacists was unrealistic and potentially dangerous for patients. The PDA warned there was a “very significant difference between the training and formation” of pharmacists and pharmacy technicians which made the latter unsuitable to carry out certain tasks such as diagnosing illness and using patient group directions which pharmacy’s union said “can be a clinically challenging process.”

However, a defiant Stockmann said: “We need to make sure we’re listening to what’s needed. Critical analysis is welcome and it should be welcome but let’s make it constructive.”

She added: “When we talk about what limits we’ve got in place (in terms of) extended education and training, just because it doesn’t have pharmacy technician as one of the people who can apply to go on these courses doesn’t mean you don’t challenge that.

“Education and training is a moving beast. It develops as the needs of the healthcare landscape does as well. What we were learning as pharmacy technicians 20 years ago has moved on.

“What we’ll need to be learning in 20 years’ time will have moved on. What we need to learn post-pandemic has changed that. The lens we look through education and training is definitely influenced by what’s around us and what the patients need.

“What we need as pharmacy technicians as healthcare professionals, I don’t think we can ever say education and training is fixed, so we should always be looking to improve. In the same way the continued professional development is post-qualification education and training, that initial education and training should also be looked at through the same lens.”

Stockmann said the debate about pharmacy technicians needed to be framed around their “scope of practice.”

“There has been some critical stuff about pharmacy technicians but we just need to understand that this is about scope of practice. This is absolutely what this is about, post-qualification education, everyone starts somewhere,” she said.

“We’ve also got pharmacy technicians in all different areas, we specialise as we need to, we get the right qualifications to attain those roles when we need to for those patients.”

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