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Pharmacy technicians are playing key new roles

The Assistant Head of Primary Care Policy calls colleagues to join with her in celebrating International Pharmacy Technician Day:

Today marks Pharmacy Technician Day 2018 when around the world we’re celebrating ‘the essential role of the pharmacy technician’.

In this era of integrated care, I’ve chosen to highlight the need for pharmacy technicians to work together to build a better understanding of the vital role that we play across the system.

Here in England and throughout the UK we have excellent examples of pharmacy technicians providing good patient care on a daily basis.

When it comes to making the most of the clinical skills of pharmacy technicians, the NHS now employs specialist pharmacy technicians for anti-coagulation working autonomously in hospitals with responsibility, in a clinic setting, for the maintenance of the patient’s anti-coagulation levels within a defined range. They adjust the dose of warfarin for individual patients based on test results.

Pharmacy technicians working in district nursing teams carry out many of the traditional roles of the district nurse, such as administering medicines and conducting medication risk assessments to ensure that patients remain safe and independent.

General practices have started to employ pharmacy technicians to help them with a range of tasks that vary in complexity from preparing the repeat prescriptions to undertaking prescribing audits and helping patients get the best outcomes from taking their medicines.

In the field of medicines management, ambulance trusts now employ pharmacy technicians who are specialists in medicines management and who also have expertise in procurement, distribution and audit.

Clinical commissioning groups have engaged pharmacy technicians to develop and implement projects to optimise the use of medicines, including action on antimicrobial stewardship.

Did you know a fully equipped CCG pharmacy technician can audit primary care prescribing, and make cost and clinically-effective switches? They update clinical systems and software to prevent inappropriate prescribing. CCG pharmacy technicians have a good understanding of the working processes in both primary and secondary care providers and can effectively negotiate solutions to interface issues.

Nationally pharmacy technicians are currently taking up new posts in care homes that will require them to ensure the efficient supply and management of medicines within the home, supporting staff and residents to achieve the best outcomes from medicines.

There are also the more traditional roles: in community pharmacy where pharmacy technicians support patients to stop smoking and help to advise on other public health issues; and hospital pharmacy where pharmacy technicians independently manage hospital dispensaries.

Things have moved on from the days when I first qualified.

I’m still a registered pharmacy technician, although I currently work at a national level for NHS England, managing, developing and negotiating the Community Pharmacy Contractual Framework. In my Honorary Visiting Senior Fellowship in Pharmacy Policy at Bradford University I lecture undergraduate and postgraduate pharmacy students and sit on the School of Pharmacy and Medical Sciences External Advisory Board.

I would say, if I can do it, you can do it too.

Today is a good day to be inspired by our role models and to consider also how we can inspire others.

Today is also the day to consider new challenges. Perhaps it’s post registration education with Health Education England, the Leadership Academy or the Centre for Pharmacy Postgraduate Education. Or one of the new opportunities that are presenting themselves through integrated ways of working.

Most of all today, I’d encourage you all to be proud of the role you play in people’s care as a pharmacy technician and registered healthcare professional.

Happy International Pharmacy Technician Day to you all!

  • Please join in and share your inspiring stories of good patient care. And join our tweet chat today @WePharm. There will be a different question every hour to prompt debate.
Alison Hemsworth

Alison Hemsworth has led on many national projects relating to community pharmacy, the most notable being the introduction of the Community Pharmacy Seasonal Flu Vaccination Service.

Her previous roles have included: performance management of community pharmacy and optometry contracts in several PCTs; Service Development Officer for Leeds LPC; Prescribing Support Technician in Bradford; Education and training of pharmacy support staff for the University of Leeds/Bradford College; and Hospital pharmacy in various departments across the country.

In addition to her technician qualifications, Alison has an MSc in Leadership and Management in Health and Social Care, and a Foundation Degree in Pharmacy Services and Medicines Management. In 2016 Alison was a finalist in the Women in the City Future Leaders Award.

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