GPhC launches new education and training standards for pharmacy technicians

The General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) is today launching new standards for the initial education and training (IET) of pharmacy technicians and announcing changes to the criteria for registration as a pharmacy technician.

The new standards are aligned to the standards for pharmacy professionals, and place a clear emphasis on making sure that pharmacy technicians have the necessary knowledge and skills to demonstrate their professionalism and deliver person-centred care from day one of practice.

An important change to the new standards is an emphasis on the integration of learning and experience throughout the training to further embed important concepts including patient-centred professionalism, communication and team working.  Course providers and employers will now be required to work together to provide an educational experience that supports this integration.

The standards were developed after extensive consultation with stakeholders interested in pharmacy technician education and reflect the feedback received through that consultation.    Some of the areas where changes were made in response to the feedback include:

  • Adding five new learning outcomes; consolidating other learning outcomes and making minor changes to others to ensure consistency between the learning outcome and the assigned outcome level.
  • The new standards set a requirement that pharmacy technicians need to have the knowledge and skills to check accurately in a variety of settings, but it would be for the employer or someone with appropriate authority and accountability to decide if a newly-qualified pharmacy technician has the appropriate competencies to carry out a ‘final’ accuracy check

Courses incorporating the new standards are expected to be designed during 2018-2019; with all training providers expected to offer courses based on the new standards from 2019.   Until new courses are ready, trainee pharmacy technicians can still enrol on existing ones,which will remain accredited by the GPhC for registration purposes.

The GPhC has already begun to engage with course designers and providers, so they can begin the process of developing new courses that incorporate the new standards.  The GPhC has also developed an evidence framework to support the creation of courses that will meet the standards; and to help course providers, pre-registration trainee pharmacy technicians and employers understand key concepts in the learning outcomes, such as accuracy checking, leadership and working in a multi-disciplinary team.   The GPhC is seeking feedback on the draft evidence framework until 14 November 2017 and will then finalise and publish the framework.

GPhC chief executive Duncan Rudkin said “We believe these new standards reflect the changing needs of patients in today’s healthcare environment; and support the delivery of person centred care and professionalism of the pharmacy technician role.  They should also provide assurance that pharmacy technicians are receiving the right education and training to prepare them to provide safe and effective care from their first day on the job.”   

The GPhC Council, in its most recent meeting, also agreed two key changes to the criteria for registration as a pharmacy technician:

•To allow the training of pre-registration trainees to be overseen and directed by a pharmacy technician or a pharmacist; (currently pre- registration pharmacy technician trainees must be managed by a pharmacist).  We are considering what further guidance we may need to produce about what is expected of pharmacy technicians when taking on this expanded role.

•To remove the option that current or recently registered pharmacists in Great Britain or Northern Ireland are able to register as a pharmacy technician automatically.

The Council will approve and publish the new criteria next year, and at that point will decide when the new criteria will come into effect.

Notes 

•The new IET standards for pharmacy technicians can be accessed here.

•The draft framework can be accessed here. The GPhC will be seeking feedback on the draft evidence framework until 14 November 2017 and will then finalise and publish the framework. We would encourage any organisations or individuals who have feedback about the draft evidence framework to email us at education@pharmacyregulation.org.