It is ten years since pharmacy technicians became a registered profession in England, Scotland and Wales. Over that time they have become valued members of the pharmacy team and provided safe and effective care to patients and the public. But many people may still be unaware of what exactly they do.
Key members of the pharmacy team, they play an important role in helping patients get the most out of their medicines. Working on the frontline of healthcare, they are often the first point of contact to deliver services and care directly to patients.
They are registered healthcare professionals who, under the supervision of a pharmacist, work directly with patients and other members of the healthcare team.
Alongside pharmacists, they work to ensure patients receive their medicines safely and effectively and make sure they understand how to take their drugs. In a community pharmacy, their work involves a variety of aspects of pharmacy practice including managing the supply of medicines.
They help to provide safe and effective pharmacy services, supply medicines and medical devices to patients, whether on prescription or over the counter, and information on symptoms and products.
In a community pharmacy, they may also give health advice to people about stopping smoking, losing weight or sexual health.
They will respond to patients’ questions, either face-to-face or over the phone. If there are any problems or queries, they can refer them to the pharmacist.
The qualities pharmacy technicians need include being confident to work with all sorts of people. They also need good communication skills, including listening and explaining clearly, and, in a busy environment such as a community pharmacy, they need to be well organised.
Over the last decade, the roles and responsibilities of pharmacy technicians have continued to develop to meet the needs of patients and the public and no doubt the profession will continue to evolve.
As community pharmacy teams increasingly deliver clinical consultations and services to patients, the role of the pharmacy technician will change. Pharmacy technicians are sure to have a greater role in pharmacy in the future.
There is even a World Pharmacy Technician Day that is held every October when the profession is celebrated.
Pharmacy technicians showed their professionalism and commitment in meeting the major challenges presented by the pandemic and last year were congratulated for their work by Chief Pharmaceutical Officer for England, Keith Ridge.
In a letter to mark World Pharmacy Technician Day, he said: “I have been impressed by the many examples of leadership, delivery and sheer fortitude that have been shown by pharmacy technician colleagues across all parts of the NHS and these are deserving of great praise.”
Pharmacy technicians are also playing a vital role in the distribution, preparation and administration of COVID-19 vaccines and can administer the vaccines in certain circumstances. :