Registered pharmacy technicians will be able to supply medicines under patient group directions (PGDs) from 26 June, after legislation was amended last week.

The changes follow a public consultation on the issue, which the government said had ‘found widespread support for giving new powers to these staff to cut bureaucracy and support more efficient patient care’.

The move was supported by 84% of those who responded to the consultation, but has been opposed by some within the sector including the Pharmacists’ Defence Association (PDA).

The consultation outcome was then subject to parliamentary approval and was approved by the House of Lords on Friday 24 May – the last day of sitting before parliament was dissolved ahead of the upcoming general election.

Leading the proposal, the then parliamentary under-secretary of state for the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) Lord Markham said that pharmacy technicians ‘are qualified and regulated healthcare professionals’.

He added that the regulatory changes would ‘provide patients with access to a wider range of clinical services delivered by healthcare professionals with the right skills, at the right time, and support this government’s ambition to improve outcomes for patients, while reducing demand on other parts of the service’.

Amendments to the Human Medicines Regulations were then made on 29 May, to come into force after 28 days, on the 26 June.

They apply to England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, although as pharmacy technicians are not registered in Northern Ireland the changes will not affect the pharmacy workforce there.

An explanatory note added to the amendments clarified that the changes will enable pharmacy technicians to use PGDs ‘in general’, acknowledging that some PGDs apply to specific healthcare professionals and medicines.

The NHS England (NHSE) Pharmacy First PGDs outline that they should only be used by registered healthcare professionals who have been named and authorised by their organisation to practice under it, and may be applied to registered healthcare professional listed in the legislation as able to practice under PGDs.

Meanwhile, the NHSE Pharmacy Contraception Service ‘must only be used by pharmacists who have been named and authorised by their organisation’, although the government suggested that NHSE ‘may want to expand this service to also include pharmacy technicians on the PGDs’.

‘In pharmacy settings this will enable better use of the skill mix in the pharmacy and free up pharmacists to provide other clinical services,’ the government added.