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GPhC expands staff training requirements beyond dispensers and MCAs

GPhC: The new training requirements will not be applied retrospectively

A wider range of pharmacy staff will be required to undergo GPhC-accredited training to reflect the “expanding” role of support staff, the regulator has announced.

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”.

What do you make of the GPhC's decision to expand training to more support roles?

Cod Fillet, Community pharmacist

Good job. Online pharmacies make a mockery of real pharmacies. We follow the rules and only supply medicines when appropriate and legal to do so. For online pharmacies anything goes. They all have an online doctor (a farse) that prescribes everything.

Susan Lee, Superintendent Pharmacist

It makes sense so long as the range of courses available is appropriate and keeps up with the varied roles and settings pharmacy staff are working in. Currently one has to shoehorn into the options of a traditional community pharmacy course or a hospital pharmacy course.  There needs to be far more pick and mix modules to cover distance selling pharmacies; homecare pharmacies; communicating with customers only over the internet or by phone; supporting pharmacists in service provision; being able to explain to customers about branded generics, why a NICE recommendation has led to a change in their presciption or a CCG decision has meant their GP is no longer prescribing something or reasons why a compliance aid might not be the solution for everyone. Current courses still stick very much with 'swallow whole do not chew' and ' how to put eye drops in' - all worthwhile stuff, but there needs to be more of the newer activity too to upskill support staff in these areas, and so help to take pressure off the pharmacists.

N patel , Non Pharmacist Branch Manager

More time.wasting and fee raising b******cks from gphc
The one organisation that does all it can to prevent real progress in.pahrmacy

Prafulkumar Soneji, Locum pharmacist

All back to school to learn spelling, punctuation and grammar.

Ghengis Pharm, Locum pharmacist

At least it doesn't pretend to represent pharmacy like the our old regulator the Pharmaceutical Society did.  Remember them? 

Benie Locum, Locum pharmacist

All this extra work and responsibility for the support staff but they'll still be on minimum wage. This should have them flocking in begging for work.

Dave Downham, Manager

No doubt there will be an annual fee - £££

Paul Dishman, Pharmaceutical Adviser

This is the regulator extending it's reach for no good reason, other than it can

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