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Pharmacy technicians are registered healthcare professionals who are regulated by the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC), highly skilled and essential members of the pharmacy team and work under the supervision of a pharmacist. Pharmacy technicians are integral to the pharmacy workforce and crucial to ensuring the safe management of medicines across all healthcare related settings including registered pharmacies, community services, the Prison Service, general practice, dispensing doctors’ practices, care homes, hospitals, mental health services, HM Armed Services and within the pharmaceutical industry. The role has fast evolved over the last few years and will continue to develop.

Pharmacy technicians are involved in the following activities and areas:

  • supply medicines and devices to patients, whether on prescription or over the counter

  • providing appropriate patient education to achieve the best outcomes through a patient’s medicines

  • assemble medicines for prescriptions

  • provide information to patients and other healthcare professionals

  • manage areas of medicines supply such as dispensaries

  • supervise other pharmacy staff / training and development

  • answering customers questions face to face or by phone

  • pre-packing, assembling and labelling medicines

  • triaging problems or queries and appropriately referring to the pharmacist

  • manufacturing

  • aseptic dispensing

  • quality control

  • procurement

  • information technology

  • clinical trials

  • medicines information

Training and Development

Training to become a pharmacy technician usually requires completing a two-year accredited pharmacy technician course. It combines practical work-based experience with study, either at college or by distance learning. Courses cover:  

  • human physiology  

  • disease management  

  • actions and uses of medicine

  • manufacturing  

  • pharmacy law  

Please click here for more information on how to become a pharmacy technician.

Furthermore, CPPE has recently launched a fully funded course that helps community pharmacy technicians develop the skills and confidence to deliver effective clinical services in community pharmacy. Further information can be found here.

The links below provide more detail on apprenticeship funding in pharmacy:

This flowchart shows how to become a pharmacy technician and an overview of working in various healthcare related sectors.

Pharmacy Technicians working in General Practice

Since April 2020, general practices have been able to employ pharmacy technicians via the Additional Roles Reimbursement Scheme (ARRS) to help them with a range of tasks that vary in complexity from reviewing the repeat prescription requests and undertaking prescribing audits to more clinical tasks such as high-risk drug monitoring, uncomplicated medication reviews, medicines optimisation and robust patient education to ensure that patients get the best outcomes from taking their medicines. 

Pharmacy technicians can also be involved in training and education to promote better understanding of medicines, more efficient medicines management and effective medicines optimisation.

Pharmacy technicians can become an important member of the practice team and support practices in the following areas:  

  • Ensuring accurate records of medication changes following transfer of care e.g. discharge letters from hospital and liaising with patients to help their understanding of any changes 

  • Resolving medication related queries directly with patients 

  • Liaising with community pharmacy colleagues for out-of-stock medicines 

  • Looking for equivalent medication alternatives for patients with difficulty swallowing tablets 

  • Advising on cost-effective prescribing choices and avoiding medication waste  

Pharmacy technicians may also give advice to patients on stopping smoking and provide expertise on different treatment options for patients in a specialist area, such as mental health or general practice.  

Benefits to patients

  • Help to increase patient action to support and advise on taking medicines and medicines optimisation

  • Work in partnership with patients to ensure they use their medicines effectively

  • Provide specialist expertise, where able to demonstrate competence, to address both the public health and social care needs of patients, including lifestyle advice and service information

Benefits to PCNs

  • Supervise practice reception teams in sorting and streaming general prescription requests, so as to allow GPs and clinical pharmacists to review the more clinically complex requests

  • Work with the PCN multi-disciplinary team to ensure efficient medicines optimisation, including implementing efficient ordering and return processes and reducing wastage

  • Provide training and support on the legal, safe and secure handling of medicines, including the implementation of the Electronic Prescription Service (EPS)

Benefits to the wider NHS

  • Develop relationships with other pharmacy technicians, pharmacists and members of the multi-disciplinary team to support integration of the pharmacy team across health and social care including primary care, community pharmacy, secondary care and mental health

  • Help in tackling local health inequalities

  • Support initiatives for antimicrobial stewardship to reduce inappropriate antibiotic prescribing

Watch the video below to find out more about the role and background of a pharmacy technician working in general practice.

Pharmacy Technicians working in Community Pharmacy

Pharmacy technicians are often the first point of contact for patients. They play an essential role in:

  • Providing healthcare advice and information to patients

  • Managing prescriptions; preparing and dispensing medicines, accuracy checking prepared medicines

  • Managing medicine stock, including ordering medicines

  • Delivering public health advice such smoking cessation, weight management, healthy lifestyle

  • Supervising other pharmacy staff / training and development

As the community pharmacist’s role moves towards delivering more clinical services, pharmacy technicians are helping to increase pharmacist capacity by running day to day activities within the pharmacy.

The responsibilities of pharmacy technicians are evolving and there is opportunity for pharmacy technicians to provide more clinically focussed services such as:

Watch the video below to find out more about the role and background of a pharmacy technician working in community pharmacy.

If you are interested in finding out more about starting an apprenticeship to become a pharmacy technician in North Central London please fill in this form and we will email you when we begin the next round of recruitment for apprentices.

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NCL's Pharmacy workforce can access the NCL Primary Care Pharmacy Network, which provides peer to peer support for those working in primary care organisations across NCL.

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