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Keith Ridge: ‘We must maximise the clinical role of pharmacy technicians’

keith ridge

By Isabel Shaw

20 Oct 2020

The expansive and growing role of pharmacy teams mentioned in the NHS Long Term Plan will only be feasible if the NHS maximises the clinical role of pharmacy technicians, the chief pharmaceutical officer at NHS England has said.

In an open letter sent to the Association of Pharmacy Technicians UK (APTUK) on Pharmacy Technician Day (20 October), Dr Keith Ridge praised pharmacy technicians for ‘their incredible contribution’ to patient care throughout the Covid-19 pandemic so far.

‘I have been impressed by the many examples of leadership, delivery and sheer fortitude that have been shown by pharmacy technician colleagues across all parts of the NHS and these are deserving of great praise,’ he added.

Dr Ridge also said that there was a ‘great future ahead’ for the profession as it is a ‘critical’ element ‘to the functioning of the pharmacy team and pharmacy and medicines optimisation services in the NHS’.

NHS England and APTUK must work together to ‘increase recruitment and maximise the potential of the clinical role of pharmacy technicians in the NHS,’ if pharmacy teams are to achieve the goals set out for them in the NHS Long Term Plan, he added.

Regulation changes

This follows recent amendments to the Human Medicines Regulations 2012, which will allow community pharmacists and other healthcare professionals to administer potential Covid-19 vaccines.

It has not yet been confirmed whether pharmacy technicians will be included in the expanded cohort of practitioners, but the Department of Health and Social Care told the Pharmacist it was keeping ‘all options open’.

ATPUK welcomed the update and said: ‘Increasing the numbers of healthcare professionals able to contribute to mass vaccination programmes for patient and community benefit is critical and outweighs any longer-term professional aspirations.

‘APTUK remains committed to ensuring that pharmacy technician profession is included in future legislation changes regarding supply and administration of medicines under a PGD.’

Samantha Quaye, a pharmacy technician and business and performance manager at Barts Health NHS Trust in London, told the Pharmacist that pharmacy technicians should ‘definitely’ be included in the list of professions who will provide vaccination under the emergency legislation.

She said: ‘Pharmacy Technicians are registered healthcare professionals with the knowledge, skills and expertise to administer vaccinations.If the political will is there then patients could receive their vaccinations from pharmacy technicians very soon.’

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