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DHSC opens consultation window on pharmacy technicians’ use of PGDs

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The Department of Health and Social Care aims to amend the Human Medicines Regulations 2012, thereby enabling pharmacy technicians to provide and administer specific medicines through a patient group direction. In line with this initiative, the Department introduced a six-week consultation to assess whether registered pharmacy technicians should be authorised to dispense medicines using a PGD.

The proposals, backed by all four Home Nations, apply exclusively to registered pharmacy technicians. Meanwhile, this coverage will extend to include pharmacy technicians in Northern Ireland upon their achievement of registered professional status.

“The proposed statutory instrument, presently applicable in England, Scotland, and Wales would offer ‘clear benefits,’ especially in areas such as vaccination and the provision of oral contraception and EHC,” the DHSC said.

According to the Department, facilitating registered pharmacy technicians to execute PGDs might amplify their workload, yet it could simultaneously enhance overall efficiency and cost-effectiveness for pharmacy teams by optimising the utilisation of skill diversity.

“The proposed implementation of PGDs would enable patients to access essential medicines and services promptly and effectively, reducing the risks associated with delayed care and improving patient outcomes,” DHSC added. “With over 4,500 registered pharmacy technicians in primary care, restructured patient-centric services become key to improving access, addressing health disparities, and easing the burden on general practice.”

The impact assessment published alongside the consultation outline projected a cost estimate of £3.9 billion for implementing the changes, primarily due to training needs. Moreover, the assessment forecasts potential net benefits of approximately £1.9 billion in savings for health services in Great Britain.

“Introducing legislative changes is necessary to unlock capacity within pharmacy teams, enabling them to provide increased patient-facing clinical care,” said Malcolm Harrison, CEO of the Company Chemists’ Association. “Integral to this future is empowering pharmacy technicians within the pharmacy team. Allowing them to supply medicines and services through Patient Group Directions is a means to achieve this.”

The DHSC, however, stated that the plans would not encompass the distribution of controlled drugs. The consultation is open until 11:59 pm on September 29, 2023.

The Pharmacy Supervision Practice Group has recently put forward recommendations to the Department of Health and Social Care and regulators, aiming to refine legislation and regulatory standards. These proposed changes, as indicated by the Pharmacy Supervision Practice Group, will undergo a thorough consultation process after being presented by government and regulators.

Consequently, professional standards and guidance will be revised to align with these changes, thereby bolstering the support provided to pharmacists and pharmacy technicians, it had said.

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