Survey suggests technicians may not want supervision powers

A recent survey conducted by the Pharmacists’ Defence Association suggests pharmacy technicians may not wish to take on greater responsibility for overseeing key tasks in pharmacies such as supervising the sale of medicines.

The PDA carried out the survey in March of this year, in light of the Government’s Rebalancing Board agreeing in principle to proposals for pharmacy technicians to take on greater responsibilities within the pharmacy.

Key findings from the survey, which had 143 responses from pharmacy technicians working in England, Scotland and Wales, include:

  • 87 per cent of pharmacy technicians would not wish to supervise other pharmacy staff in the absence of a pharmacist
  • 86 per cent said they wouldn’t supervise POM sales without a pharmacist present, and 80 per cent wouldn’t supervise P or GSL sales
  • Of those who were not prepared to supervise the supply of POM medicines, 30 per cent said they wouldn’t do so in any circumstances, 42 per cent said they would do so only with a pharmacist present, and 15 per cent said they would do so if they qualified as a pharmacist themselves.

Factors that technicians said could make them more open to greater responsibility included higher salaries, training opportunities and the removal of the risk of criminal prosecution should anything go wrong.

‘A reduction in standards’

PDA director Paul Day said that while the union does not count pharmacy technicians among its members, ”we still don’t want to see those colleagues placed in inappropriate situations”.

“We can see the problems in other public services where junior colleagues without the necessary skills or competence have been asked to fulfil professional roles as a cost-cutting exercise. It is bad for them and sees a reduction in standards,” Mr Day said.

Any harm to patients as a result of changes to supervision would be “simply unacceptable,” he added.

The PDA has expressed concerns that the Rebalancing Board “has not discussed these proposals with the pharmacy profession or pharmacy technicians,” and claims the board has refused to allow the PDA to take part in its discussions “and speak up as the voice of pharmacists”.

Only 40 per cent of respondents were aware of the board’s discussions, the PDA says.

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