PDA analyses qualification levels of occupations registered with a healthcare regulator

Following the publication of the PDA's report on pharmacy technicians, we were prompted by an enquiry from a pharmacist to research the minimum qualification level at entry into the occupations regulated by the 9 healthcare regulators in the UK, considering current UK study requirements.

Thu 25th April 2019 The PDA

The list of 32 regulated occupations is based on the government’s consultation on “Promoting Professionalism, Reforming Regulation”, which concluded in 2018 (read more).

To enable comparisons, the assessment of entry level qualifications is based on the Regulated Qualifications Framework (RQF) applicable in England and Northern Ireland and the Credit and Qualifications Framework for Wales (CQFW), which uses the same levels and level descriptors as the RQF.

There are only five occupations currently requiring a level 7 qualification on entry (master’s degree or above):

  • Arts Therapists (arts psychotherapy)
  • Dentists
  • Doctors
  • Pharmacists
  • Practitioner Psychologists

Another finding was that for every occupation out of the 32, there’s a level 6 degree available for entry and registration, with one exception: Pharmacy Technicians (whose qualification is at level 3).

For orthodontic therapists there’s a level 4 diploma and not a level 6 BSc – but they can only work in that occupation after having previously qualified in dental nursing, dental hygiene, dental therapy or dental technology so in effect, there is a level 6 option available. Since the level 6 option is commonly available in those careers, it will drive standards upwards as good employers seek out those who have the higher-level qualifications.

There are only 3 registered groups working with a minimum of a level 3 qualification on entry:

  • Dental nurses
  • Dental technicians
  • Pharmacy technicians

This shows the problem with grouping pharmacists and pharmacy technicians together and calling them “pharmacy professionals”. These problems are explained in detail in the PDA report on pharmacy technicians. When this term is used to refer to both groups it could potentially cause problems such as:

  • Public confusion between the two groups
  • Misplaced public confidence in pharmacy technicians
  • Other healthcare professionals and healthcare staff could be confused between the two groups and may believe that pharmacy technicians can undertake tasks which are beyond the scope of their competency
  • Inappropriate delegation of duties to pharmacy technicians
  • Reduced quality of training and standards when they are designed to cater for both groups
  • The diminution of the professionalism and status of pharmacists.

If there have been any additions to or removals from the list of regulated occupations at regulator level since 2018, these would not be reflected in this analysis (read more).

Download the PDA’s Pharmacy Technicians Report here.

Download the PSA Registered Occupational Analysis here

thumbnail of PSA Registered Occupations Analysis 06-03-2019

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