PDA report suggests action on grandparenting and educational standards of pharmacy technicians is required

The PDA have released the third chapter of their pharmacy technicians report which shows that although 73% of pharmacy technicians on the 2017 GPhC register were admitted through grandparenting arrangements, the GPhC does not hold records of what assessments were conducted by the RPSGB as to the suitability of the qualifications of individual pharmacy technicians during the grandparenting process.

Thu 20th September 2018 The PDA

The grandparenting entry arrangements were established by the RPSGB in its previous life as the pharmacy regulator and ended in 2010, prior to the establishment of the GPhC.

In September 2014, at the RPS conference, the current Chair of the GPhC Nigel Clarke was asked whether the GPhC would be prepared to issue guidance to pharmacists, to encourage them to delegate tasks to pharmacy technicians. He explained that as a result of grandparenting, there were some very variable standards amongst pharmacy technicians. He told the conference that it was therefore not possible for the regulator to take a blanket view and to recommend to pharmacists what roles they should delegate to pharmacy technicians; a generic approach to the entire group was not possible.

“Under such circumstances it is unsurprising that community pharmacists are reluctant to delegate and that the government’s proposals to change the rules on supervision are mired in concerns over patient safety and a lack of support from community pharmacists”, said Mark Koziol, Chairman of the PDA.

Mark continued: “A pharmacy without a pharmacist is never going to be as safe as a pharmacy with a pharmacist present, however, if pharmacists are to contemplate engaging in new and more patient facing roles, they must be able to have much greater confidence in the ability of pharmacy technicians to be able to undertake the tasks that they are delegated. Pharmacy technicians in community pharmacy must be able to provide a safe and robust workforce upon which pharmacists and ultimately patients can rely.”

The report’s recommendations

Following a substantial project on skill mix in pharmacy, the PDA recommends that;

  • The current variance in the training and educational standards of existing pharmacy technicians presents risks to the proper development of skill mix in community pharmacy and must be addressed.
  • The public register of pharmacy technicians should be annotated for those individuals who have been grand-parented on to it and for those in possession of the recently acquired NVQ3 qualifications.

Going forward, the standards for the education of pharmacy technicians should be reviewed if skill mix is to flourish. The PDA recommends that;

  • A minimum entry level requirement should be established of at least 5 GCSEs at grade C or above, including Maths, English and either Chemistry or Biology, for enrolment on to pharmacy technician initial education and training courses.
  • The current NVQ level 3 qualification standard for pharmacy technicians should be increased to a level 4/5 educational (HNC/HND/foundation degree) standard.
  • A registration assessment for all pharmacy technicians should be established as a condition of formal registration. This would provide quality assurance and guarantee a minimum level of knowledge. This process should be administered by the GPhC.

Download a summary of the third chapter here

thumbnail of Chapter 3 Executive Summary


thumbnail of Pharmacy-Technicians-Report-Chapter-3



About the PDA

The PDA (Pharmacists’ Defence Association) operates as a not-for-profit defence association and a trade union with a certificate of independence. With more than 29,000 members, it aims to act upon and support the needs of individual pharmacists and, when necessary, defend their reputation. It is a member of Unions21, EPhEU and GFTU.

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