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NI proposes professional status for pharmacy technicians by 2025

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NI proposes professional status for pharmacy technicians by 2025

The Department of Health in Northern Ireland has launched a consultation on proposals to regulate pharmacy technicians as healthcare professionals.

The consultation, which began yesterday and runs until May 16, is aimed at establishing technicians as a registered profession that is regulated by the Pharmaceutical Society of Northern Ireland.

It forms part of the department’s pharmacy workforce action plan, which was first published in November 2020.

The proposals – which the Government expects to come into effect in 2025 – would bring NI policy in line with Great Britain, where pharmacy technicians are regulated by the GPhC. 

The consultation document claims that regulation of this workforce will help ensure the continued high regard the public has for pharmacy teams, and will support the increasingly patient-facing role played by Northern Ireland’s 900 pharmacy technicians.

“The non-regulated status of pharmacy technicians in NI is a long standing issue that has been attracting growing interest among stakeholders in recent years, particularly given the pressures on the pharmacy workforce over the course of the pandemic,” it says.

It is also claimed that professional status will help provide satisfying career pathways for pharmacy technicians, improving retention in the community pharmacy sector in particular. 

Under the proposals, people will need to complete at least two years’ work-based experience in the UK before registering as a pharmacy technician.

Health minister Robin Swann said: “Pharmacy teams play an essential role in delivering health services to the people of Northern Ireland.

“We owe them a debt of gratitude as a key and significant part of the healthcare workforce and rely on their professionalism which has been particularly evident over the course of the pandemic.

“This document sets out a proposal for the introduction of regulation of pharmacy technicians in Northern Ireland that will align us with the rest of the UK and will help to ensure that the pharmacy workforce has the necessary capability and capacity to fully support the transformation of our health service in the coming years.”

Chief pharmaceutical officer Cathy Harrison said: “A central theme of the Pharmacy Workforce Review 2020 is developing the role of pharmacy technicians within the workforce, in tandem with progressing the regulation and registration of pharmacy technicians as registered professionals in their own right.

“This will help ensure the full capabilities of the pharmacy workforce are utilised and support a better skill mix of the pharmacy workforce whilst maintaining patient safety and public confidence.”

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