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Umesh Modi is a chartered accountant, and Pamini Jatheeskumar is a chartered certified accountant at Silver Levene...
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Don Lavoie is alcohol programme manager at Public Health England and Gul Root is lead pharmacist, Health and Wellbeing Directorate, Public Health England
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technicianDecember 9 2015

Initial dispensary education and training should be more dependent on a clearer role and scope for pharmacy technicians, a review has proposed.

Pharmacy technicians’ initial training and education (IET) should more closely mirror that of pharmacists, with accountabilities more clearly defined, says the report commissioned by the General Pharmaceutical Council.

In addition, the report recommends there should be:

  • an increased focus on teaching patient care, safety and the code of conduct
  • an improvement in assessment methods, particularly around assessing a pharmacy technician pre-registration trainee’s ability to apply knowledge in practice
  • more robust criteria included in the standards for monitoring progress and quality assurance.

The recommendations have been made in a report compiled by researchers from University College London and NHS London Pharmacy Education and Training. Analysis was based on a literature review and in depth-interviews with representatives from awarding bodies, community pharmacy employers, education providers, hospital pharmacy employers and other stakeholders.

The report complements a University of Manchester report about the pharmacy technicians’ training experience and the GPhC’s first ever survey of pharmacy technician pre-registration training.

“The current IET standards for pharmacy technicians are aimed at Awarding Bodies and education and training providers and it is suggested that their scope should be widened to include employers, pre-registration trainee pharmacy technicians (PTPTs) and other stakeholders involved in the IET process,” says the report. “The addition of clear guidance about how the IET standards could be met in working healthcare environments was also thought to be a useful addition.”

It concludes that all current IET standards are considered to be essential, but there are parts of the curricula which need to be updated. However, stakeholders and education providers thought that both the length of the IET and the academic level were appropriate.

“Further discussion of the role for pharmacy technicians and professional responsibilities within the pharmacy team are essential to help inform the development of new standards of initial education and training,” said the researchers. Changes would be needed, though, if the role of the pharmacy technician evolves further, “if the scope of practice widens to include more patient-facing practice.”

A concern was that the mode of delivery of IET can result in variable quality outcomes, so it was proposed that standards should reflect a more blended approach to learning. Feedback from the interviews highlighted a perception that trainees in the community pharmacy sector were often the only trainee at premises, and may not work alongside other pharmacy technicians, unlike in hospital. Another disparity was that of funding for trainees in community pharmacy compared to hospital.

Duncan Rudkin, Chief Executive of the GPhC, commented: “This report further improves our understanding of some of the key trends, issues and themes in pharmacy technician pre-registration training and will help us with our review of education and training standards for the pharmacy team.

“We believe pharmacy technicians have a crucial role to play now and in the future in providing high-quality care to patients. It is vital that the standards we set enable pharmacy technicians to get the quality of initial education and training that they need.”

Tess Fenn, President of the Association of Pharmacy Technicians UK (APTUK), said: “We welcome this report providing more of a discussion on the changing roles of pharmacy technicians as they move towards releasing pharmacists to fulfil their clinical role.

“Ensuring that pharmacy technician education is at the right academic level is needed to give the public and the profession assurance of a competent practitioner at every level. APTUK are delighted that the report provides excellent benchmarking towards the upcoming GPhC review of the initial education and training standards.”

Links:

GPhC announcement

H Rosado et al. ‘An analysis of the initial education and training standards for pharmacy technicians and views on their fitness for purpose - a report to the General Pharmaceutical Council’. UCL NHS London Pharmacy Education and Training. December 2015

APTUK response

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