The RPS country visions highlight how skill mix is vitally important in delivering modern and efficient pharmacy services. Increasing the opportunities for pharmacy technicians to further develop their role has the potential to strengthen the foundation for pharmacy practice across all sectors.
As managing the health of patients becomes more complex, with multiple long-term conditions and more complex medicines and therapies, the need for pharmacists to focus on clinical and therapeutic interventions is increasing.
Enabling pharmacy technicians to undertake further services under a PGD will increase capacity for pharmacy teams and further support consistency of services being offered within pharmacy. This legislative amendment could support transformational change within pharmacy teams and enable the further evolution of the pharmacist’s role into more complex clinical care.
Greater utilisation of the skills of pharmacy technicians could increase patient access to services whilst also building capacity to support the introduction of more enhanced pharmacist led clinical services.The valuable and crucial contribution of pharmacy technicians operating under a PGD has already been recognised during the uptake of flu and COVID-19 vaccinations.
Pharmacy technicians are regulated by the General Pharmaceutical Council, and must maintain high standards of professionalism. All pharmacy professionals that use PGDs must adhere to professional standards, including competency-based training and assessment of skills and knowledge.
As with all health professionals, it is critical that pharmacy technicians operating PGDs should only work within their competence. It is essential that pharmacy technicians are given the right training, education, and workplace support to enable them to confidently and competently deliver PGDs.
Regulators should be alert to the potential for the inappropriate creation and use of PGDs, driven by commercial imperatives. In line with the recommendation of SPS and NICE, regulators must ensure PGDs are developed after careful consideration of the legal classification of the medication and all the potential methods of supply and/or administration of medicines, including prescribing by pharmacists, doctors, dentists or other independent prescribers and consideration of the legal exemptions that may be applicable.
The supply and administration of medicines under a PGD should be reserved for situations where this offers an advantage for patient care, without compromising patient safety.
Scrutiny should be given to the most appropriate healthcare professional(s) to utilise individual PGDs in the context of setting, clinical training and indication.
Due consideration should be given to those PGDs that are suitable for pharmacy technicians as it is recognised that some PGDs require a level of clinical decision making that may, in the interests of patients, be better delivered by a pharmacist or healthcare professional other than a pharmacy technician.
In keeping with wider discussions across pharmacy, it is essential that the accountability and professional responsibility of pharmacy technicians is clearly understood in situations where PGDs are being used. Pharmacy technicians need the professional confidence to only operate within their own competency and the support to resist commercial pressures that may be imposed on them by others.