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How can we expand the role of the pharmacy technician?


How can we expand the role of the pharmacy technician?

The role of a pharmacy technician has changed exponentially over the past few years. Indeed, the Covid-19 pandemic saw registered pharmacy technicians being given the opportunity to learn how to vaccinate patients for the first time 

Whilst this was a welcome start, where can we go from here?

According to Ashley Matthews, pharmacy services lead technician, O’Brien’s Pharmacy Group, the only way is up. “Until Covid, there was always a glass ceiling for [pharmacy] technicians because of legislation,” she says. “O’Brien’s had some of the first pharmacy technicians to deliver vaccinations after the new protocol. 

Speaking at the Pharmacy Show in Birmingham today, Ms Matthews explained that this new freedom allowed her to develop an off-site private flu vaccination service.

“We provided this to teachers and other local businesses,” she said. “So far we’ve administered approximately 550 off site vaccinations each season.”

“I’ve found a passion for pharmacy services," she continued, “there is no better feeling than knowing you’ve made a difference to someone else’s health”.  

Working on a variety of services in the pharmacy, Ashley has also endeavoured to take these out of the pharmacy and into the wider community. “I’ve gone to local schools and businesses,” she said. “I’ve promoted our services at every health and well-being event, and I’ve even been on the local radio station.”

What can pharmacy technicians do?

Ms Matthews credited the guidance, encouragement and support from her managers to “do things a little differently” as being the drive behind her career so far. For other pharmacy technicians who may need a little help, she recommended keeping up to date with all new services.

“Read the service spec,” she advised. “Who can deliver it? Is it tech led? Even if it is pharmacist led, we can all help the pharmacist as much as we can within the scope of the service.

“For example, the discharge medicines service, obviously the pharmacist does the first consultation, but pharmacy technicians can do the second and third. Learning about pharmacist led services as well as tech led services is really important.”  

Looking to the future

For Ms Matthews, the biggest achievement she counts to date is the respect she’s gained within her team. “I’m able to mentor colleagues and encourage them to be the best they can be. Staff and managers come to me for the answer to their questions now.”

“Now is the time to show what pharmacy technicians are capable of doing,” she added. “There’s so much scope in pharmacy with footfall to be able to provide services. I’d like to see us continue to be involved with more and more of these.”

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