GPhC: Pre-reg technicians don't need pharmacist supervision

GPhC: Remove option for pharmacists to automatically register themselves as technicians
Trainee technicians could be supervised by fellow technicians, rather than a pharmacist, the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) has proposed.

​Under the GPhC's current criteria, pre-reg technicians must train under “the direction, supervision or guidance” of a pharmacist only.

But allowing pre-regs to train under technicians instead would help “legitimise” their training in environments where a pharmacist might not be present, the regulator said in a consultation document published yesterday (December 8).

The GPhC's plans for its “first major overhaul” of education standards for technicians also includes a proposal to remove the option for pharmacists to be able to automatically register themselves as a technician.

Although there are many similarities between pharmacists and technicians, “we do not think it is appropriate that one healthcare professional can simply register without some independent assessment”, it explained.

“Pharmacists wanting to register as technicians should have to complete the same initial education and training as pre-registration trainee technicians,” the GPhC added.

Launching the consultation, the GPhC said it is “clear” from its “dealings with the sector” that technicians “are being seen more and more as crucial members of the healthcare workforce, with growing responsibilities and roles”.

Although technicians were only added to the GPhC's statutory register in 2011, responsibilities that were once seen as “advanced practice” are now key parts of a technician's everyday role, the regulator stressed.

These responsibilities include: the ability to carry out accuracy checking; the requirement for newly-qualified technicians to understand core safety concepts, such as clinical and corporate governance and audits; and the ability to work within and across teams, it said.

GPhC chief executive Duncan Rudkin said: “We recognise that the role of pharmacy technicians has grown and is likely to continue to grow. These standards are intended to help ensure technicians are prepared for the future.”

Assessing minimum training time

The regulator is also asking for feedback on whether some “flexibility” should be introduced around the required two-years of work experience for trainee technicians.

Those trainees who are able to meet all the learning outcomes in less than two years could be allowed to do so, “with appropriate safeguards”, the GPhC suggested.

The regulator is collecting feedback from individuals and organisations via a questionnaire, which can be emailed or posted back to its London head office. The consultation will run for 14 weeks, closing on March 1, 2017.

It will analyse the responses at its governing council in summer 2017, it added.

Read the full document and complete the questionnaire here.

What do you make of the proposed changes?

C A, Community pharmacist

"The ability to understand core safety concepts, such as clinical and corporate governance and audits; and the ability to work within and across teams" - those are skills I expect from my dispensing assistants!

Remind me again what the official difference is between a dispenser and a tech? One pays the GPhC money?

As for minimum training time - why stop at removing the minimum training time for technicians? Why not remove it for pre-regs too! Pre-regs who are able to meet all the learning outcomes in less than one year could be allowed to do so, “with appropriate safeguards”. In fact why not let pre-regs sign off each other, who needs pharmacist supervision?

Peter Smee, Design

Every major policy decision from the GPhC makes the public less safe. They're also proposing doing away with the minimum training period so it won't be 2 years anymore. A recent research paper which is hosted on the GPhC website showed that most people thought that it should stay the same or be longer than 2 years - but no, the GPhC thinks it could be less. Pharmacists do 4 years full time at Uni if they have good enough A-levels, a year's full time pre-reg and two separate exam papers. The GPhC are proposing technicians could supervise one another and could qualify even in a few days or weeks if some other technician was happy to sign them off, with no reasonable minimum entry requirements and no registration exam. Imagine that in community pharmacy where they won't really be doing anything different to a dispenser (except supervising the pharmacy - I'm sure that will be the next joke). Technicians signing each other off in 2 years or less will become a target like everything else.

This has the multiples written all over it and the GPhC should be totally ashamed. Again.

Lynne Byrne, Locum pharmacist

What an utter disgrace.The Gphc must be in the pockets of the multiples.Watch out....technicians will be doing our jobs very soon with out a pharmacist in sight.I completely despair of this profession with every new article I read.

Gerry Diamond, Primary care pharmacist

Not an unusual situation as I am aware experienced techs run BTEC courses at FE colleges, manage hospital dispensaries and so on. Seems sensible to have registered experience techs do this as they do the job daily.

Lucky Ex-Locum, Superintendent Pharmacist

One more nail in the coffin. 

Chemical Mistry, Editorial

With the law being passed through parliament at the moment for generic drug pricing to be limited, all road leads to the amazonisation of drug supply by the major players, pharmacist's will be like candlestick maker in a few years, get out now if you can.

Graham Morris, Information Technology

One more step along the road we go!

Darvis O'Rourke, Locum pharmacist

Dear GPhC,  you really are the dog being wagged by the corporates' tail!  Or is it the DOH's?

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