The government has launched a consultation on whether registered pharmacy technicians should be allowed to supply medicines under a patient group direction (PGD).
It also asks respondents whether the current training undertaken by registered pharmacy technicians would be considered sufficient for this.
The government said that while allowing registered pharmacy technicians to deliver PGDs could increase their workload, it could also deliver greater efficiency and cost-effectiveness for pharmacy teams by allowing them to make a better use of skills mix.
And it said that the plans would help to develop the vision of a more clinical role for pharmacy teams in the four UK nations, enabling greater healthcare access for patients.
Under the proposals, registered pharmacy technicians would be allowed to supply and administer specific medicines to a group of patients within specific circumstances, under a PGD.
The legislative change would enable the use of PGDs by pharmacy technicians but local criteria and training would still need to be met.
When working under a PGD, registered pharmacy technicians would be professionally accountable for their decisions, including actions and omissions, and would therefore not be obliged to supply medicines under a PGD if they do not believe it is safe to do so.
And the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) is considering whether further development of the revalidation framework is needed, as part of its wider look at post-registration assurance of practice.
The proposals would only apply to registered pharmacy technicians, and could be extended to apply to pharmacy technicians in Northern Ireland once they become a registered profession.
In 2020, the government confirmed that it was ‘looking into’ including pharmacy technicians on the list of healthcare professionals able to administer Covid-19 vaccinations under a PGD.
And in March this year pharmacy technicians were legally enabled to deliver parts of the hypertension case-finding service and smoking cessation service.
From May this year, services carried out by staff directly under the supervision of a pharmacist became VAT-free, in a move which pharmacy leaders said will allow better use of the skills mix within community pharmacies.
And a cross-sector working group recently clarified that ‘supervision’ should not require a pharmacist to supervise every individual instance of medicine supply, ahead of prospective legislative reform on the issue.
The PGD consultation said that the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) aims to consult on legislative proposals on supervision in autumn 2023.
Malcolm Harrison, chief executive of the Company Chemists' Association (CCA) said that legislative changes needed to be introduced to release capacity within pharmacy teams and allow them to deliver more patient facing clinical care.
'Integral to this future is enabling pharmacy technicians to do more as part of the pharmacy team. Allowing pharmacy technicians to supply medicines and services through Patient Group Directions, is one way to achieve this,' he said this week, commenting on new training announced for pharmacy technicians.