By Neil Trainis
The Association of Pharmacy Technicians UK (APTUK) president Liz Fidler has said she is prepared to talk to her members to find out what they think about the idea of Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) membership being extended to pharmacy technicians.
In an interview with Independent Community Pharmacist, Fidler (pictured) insisted she had not yet held any conversations with APTUK members about the issue but would discuss it with them if the subject arose.
RPS president Sandra Gidley is understood to be considering extending its membership to pharmacy technicians although when ICP asked the professional leadership body in July whether that would happen, it did not comment.
However, in her election manifesto for the RPS presidency, Gidley said the issue of pharmacy technician membership was one that had been “ducked…for far too long” and needed “resolving sooner rather than later.”
Fidler said: “I think I would like to scope my members’ views on what they feel about that. I don’t think I could comment any further on that because I’ve not had any conversations around that.”
When asked to confirm that she is prepared to gauge APTUK members’ views on signing up to RPS membership, she said: “It would depend on whether the conversation was started…it’s not something that’s been on the table in terms of a rich discussion.
“I’ve seen lots of things in terms of Twitter and social media but that’s happened within the ranks I guess in terms of RPS and APTUK membership, it’s not necessarily a strategic conversation that’s happened.
“It would be amiss of me to make any statement linked to that but I would happily engage in conversations about that and then I’d take the decision to then canvass with members about what that would mean for the benefit of the pharmacy profession as a whole.”
The issue of whether a pharmacy technician should oversee the supply of medicines to a patient in the absence of a pharmacist has been a thorny one – the RPS has said it does “not want to see pharmacies run without pharmacists.”
The RPS also said pharmacy technicians should undergo “consistent and recognised levels of training and competency” before carrying out “any enhanced roles such as accuracy checking technicians and whatever other roles may emerge.”
When asked for her view on the RPS’ position on pharmacy technicians, Fidler said that although she was happy for the APTUK to work collaboratively with pharmacy’s professional leadership body, there was “space for both professional leadership bodies” to exist.
“My view, and I can only speak from my term as president which is from February, I have found working with the RPS very engaging in terms of the initial conversations and our approach is we recognise that there is something about professional leadership bodies supporting their membership and their professionals in the sector,” she said.
“And there are things you would have in common in terms of areas you would want to work collaboratively on and there are things that would be distinctly different and therefore, there is space for both professional leadership bodies.”
The RPS and the Work Psychology Group is currently analysing the roles of early career pharmacy technicians, work the APTUK said it would use to inform its UK-wide foundation framework for pharmacy technicians.
Liz Fidler gives her first interview since becoming APTUK president in November's edition of ICP.