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Changes introduced to education and training of pharmacy support staff

The Council of the GPhC agrees new education and training requirements and learning outcomes for all pharmacy support roles

The Council decided to introduce the new requirements after considering the feedback received from consultation and engagement with the pharmacy sector, pharmacy support staff, pharmacy professionals, members of the public and education and training providers.

In response to the feedback received, the Council agreed that the GPhC should continue to set requirements for the education and training of pharmacy support staff and to accredit courses.  The requirements will also now cover all support staff who have roles in:

  • dispensing and supply of medicines and medical devices
  • advising on the use of medicines and medical devices
  • assisting in the provision of pharmacy services.

The previous requirements only covered medicines counter assistants and dispensing assistants.

The requirements, including the learning outcomes, have also been updated to make sure that they reflect developments in pharmacy practice and the workforce since they were first introduced in 2005.  This include core skills that all pharmacy support staff need to achieve, including communication skills for patient-centred care.

Alongside the requirements, a set of updated criteria for use in the accreditation of courses has also been developed.

At the meeting, the Council agreed some amendments to the requirements which will now be made before the final requirements are published.

Duncan Rudkin, Chief Executive of the GPhC said:

“Pharmacy support staff play a very important role in providing pharmacy services to patients and the public. All members of the pharmacy team must have the education and training they need to undertake their important roles safely and effectively. 

“I want to thank everyone who took part in our consultations and engagement on our proposals. We have made significant changes to our original proposals based on their feedback and look forward to implementing our new approach.”

In 2020, the GPhC will set and communicate the date from which any new courses will need to meet the revised criteria for accreditation

Notes to editors

  1. Support staff currently on any of the GPhC approved courses can continue with their current course and existing approved courses can continue to enrol learners until new courses are in place. 
  2. The requirements will not be applied retrospectively, meaning that support staff who have already met the existing requirements will not be required to complete further training as a result of the revised requirements. 
  3. Pharmacy students and pre-registration trainees will be exempt from meeting the requirements if employed in a pharmacy support role. However, employers will be required to check (from a date to be announced in 2020) that the pharmacy students or pre-registration trainees they employ as pharmacy support staff are equipped to undertake their role. The GPhC has developed a self-evaluation form for this purpose.
  4. Revised requirements were considered by Council at its December meeting
  5. The final version of the requirements will be published early next year.