Pharmacy teams are experts in medicines, their uses and dosages while also providing patients with essential health advice on various issues. These can range from sexual health and quitting smoking to living a healthier life. The knowledge they possess of medicines and their effects on the human body is vital for successfully managing every type of medical condition.
In order to become a pharmacist, pharmacy technician or a member of the support team, the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) has outlined certain education requirement for pharmacy teams. In this article, we focus on the requirements for pharmacy support staff as well as what a pharmacy needs to do in terms of training, development and record keeping.
General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) Education Requirements for Pharmacy Teams
Pharmacy support staff are those within pharmacy teams who are not registered with the GPhC. However, they are involved in providing pharmacy services at a registered pharmacy. They include pharmacy staff, from dispensers and medicines counter assistants to pharmacy managers.
Pharmacy support staff need to meet the updated education and training requirements from the GPhC. This will ensure that they still have the necessary knowledge, attitude and behaviour to provide quality, safe and effective care to anyone using pharmacy services.
Training For Dispensing / Pharmacy Assistant
A dispensing assistant, also known as a pharmacy assistant, is responsible for a range of duties within the pharmacy. They report to the pharmacist while assisting them and the pharmacy technician in the dispensing process. These individuals may work in a hospital pharmacy or community pharmacy with various roles and responsibilities as laid out by the particular institution.
Training For Medicines Counter Assistants
A medicines counter assistant also works under the pharmacist and they are involved in the sale of over-the-counter medicines. Their training involves how to offer advice on common ailments and should know when to refer a customer to a pharmacist.
Medicines counter assistants need to complete an accredited medicines counter assistant course. Alternatively, they can do the relevant units of a GPhC-recognised dispensing assistant or pharmacy technician course as well.
For additional information on the training requirements, simply download the policy on Minimum Training Requirements for Dispensing/Pharmacy Assistants and Medicines Counter Assistants (unregistered staff).
Requirements For A GPhC-Accredited Or Recognised Course
To meet the minimum training requirements, a dispensing/pharmacy assistant must work at a hospital or community pharmacy. From there, they must complete the relevant modules of the Level 2 certificate in pharmacy service skills. Anyone working in a pharmacy involved with the following needs to complete the course:
- Selling over-the-counter medicines and providing information to customers on symptoms and products
- Prescriptions, receipts and collections
- Assembling prescribed items which include generating labels
- Ordering, receiving and storing of any pharmaceutical stock
- Supplying any and all pharmaceutical stock
- Preparing for manufacturing of pharmaceutical products, including aseptic products
- Manufacturing and assembling medicinal products, also including aseptic products
What Are The Standards For Registered Pharmacies?
There are certain standards in place to create and maintain the right environment ensuring the safe and effective practice of pharmacy services. They apply to all pharmacies registered with the General Pharmaceutical Council.
To that end, every member within pharmacy teams must be familiar with the standards and understand why it’s essential that they meet each one. The GPhC has grouped the pharmacy standards into five principles which you can access here.
Essentially, pharmacies must ensure the following:
- All of their staff are empowered and competent to safeguard the health, safety and wellbeing of patients and the public
- They have enough suitably qualified and skilled staff to provide safe and effective pharmacy services
- That pharmacy team have the appropriate skills, qualifications and competence for their specific duties and responsibilities, or that they are working under the supervision of another person while in training
Inspection Of Registered Pharmacies
In terms of the above-mentioned standards, the GPhC conducts pharmacy inspections to ensure that they meet the requirements. This provides patients and the public with the knowledge that they will receive safe and effective care at their hospital or community pharmacy.
These pharmacy inspections are also aimed at helping pharmacy teams improve their systems and services. It further focuses on the quality of care and the outcomes for patients and the public when using their services.
The pharmacy inspection takes a ‘show-and-tell’ approach where the inspectors look at all the pharmacy services and they also involve the pharmacy team throughout. Inspectors will also talk to everyone to make sure they understand that the way they work has a direct impact on the people frequent the pharmacy. The GPhC video below shows what happens during a typical inspection.
GPhC Reports, Record Keeping And Tracking Sheets
Pharmacies must be able to demonstrate staff Continuing Professional Development (CPD) and record activity. As part of their inspection regime, the GPhC will focus on the whole team, ensuring that they receive the necessary training and support for continuing professional development.
All the GPhC reports will be published on their website so anyone can find out how a pharmacy is performing. Inspection reports will usually be uploaded within six weeks with all the necessary information.
VirtualOutcomes Online Training And Support For Pharmacy Teams
VirtualOutcomes has produced a free record sheet to allow pharmacy teams to track all of their CPD activity. You can download the tracking sheet by clicking here.
If you need to access online training courses to help your pharmacy team, VirtualOutcomes have developed several. These range from diabetes, sepsis and strokes to fall prevention, asthma attacks and our coveted Health Champion Training.