As part of the General Pharmaceutical Council’s (GPhC) new education and training requirements for all pharmacy support roles – which were agreed at a council meeting last week (December 5) – a wider range of pharmacy staff will have to undergo training courses accredited by the regulator.
Under the current policy for support staff training, dispensing assistants and medicines counter assistants (MCAs) “must have undertaken or be undertaking an accredited course relevant to their duties”, for example dispensers having the equivalent of a Pharmacy Service Skills NVQ level 2 (QCF) qualification.
However, “support staff roles vary widely, and the variation is increasing”, the GPhC said, referring to “staff working to provide services in hub-and-spoke pharmacies, stocking and supplying medicines, manufacturing and preparing (often in specialised conditions), providing delivery services, advising pharmacy users remotely, and assisting pharmacy professionals to providing other services, to name a few”.
Under the new training requirements – a final version of which is expected to published in the new year – all staff who dispense and supply medicines and medical devices, advise on their use and assist “in the provision of pharmacy services” will now be subject to the requirements, the GPhC said.
Some of the skills that pharmacy support staff will be asked to demonstrate include:
- Showing awareness of how to raise concerns “about safeguarding people”
- Showing how they can effectively communicate “with users of pharmacy services”
- Showing respect for diversity and cultural differences.
Exemptions to the new requirements
The updated requirements will not apply 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”, the GPhC said.
This includes “holders of historic pharmacy technician qualifications”, it added.
Students on MPharm degrees and Overseas Pharmacists’ Assessment Programme (OSPAP) courses and pre-registration trainee pharmacists are also exempt from undergoing the training.
New courses from 2020
Alongside the training requirements, a set of updated criteria for use in the accreditation of courses has also been developed and from 2020, new courses will need to meet these revised criteria.
However, anyone currently completing a GPhC-approved course can continue on it, the regulator said, and existing courses can accept new learners “up to their expiry date, when new courses should be in place”.