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Supporting pharmacy technician delivered medicines optimisation across healthcare sectors

The aim of the project was to review, adapt and add training programmes for pharmacy technicians

The project was to support pharmacy technicians delivering medicines optimisation across healthcare sectors through post-registration training, assessment and accreditation programmes run by South West Medicines Information and Training (SWMIT), University Hospitals Bristol NHS Foundation Trust at Bristol.

Project Objectives:

a. To review the current SWMIT medicines management accreditation programmes in terms of their content and assessment methods to ensure that they are relevant to a range of health care providers and settings.

b. To identify any new areas of medicines management/optimisation that warrant the development of accreditation programmes.

c. To launch a new suite of programmes that meet relevant national standards.

The existing SWMIT programmes were devised primarily to support practice in the acute sector and were focused on the assessment of patients’ medicines on admission, in-patient and discharge medicines supply.  Latterly, a module addressing medicines reconciliation has been developed and more recently newer roles are being developed creating a demand for schemes to support clinical prioritisation (i.e. reviewing all patients in a care setting and identifying those that need to be seen by a pharmacist) and discharge facilitation.

Pharmacy technicians from non-acute providers have completed the programmes successfully but some providers have expressed the view that they don’t meet their needs in terms of the specific tasks accredited and that the evidence of competency is difficult to collect within their specific health care setting.

A number of providers are now implementing electronic prescription and medicines administration (EPMA) systems which change the ways that some of the medicines management tasks are delivered.

Whilst the project was running, NHS England launched the next version of the medicines optimisation dashboard that places a high value on medicines reconciliation and the Carter review highlights efficiencies gains from improved medicines optimisation.

The project was completed in May 2016.



Following a review of the project, the following achievements, benefits and lessons were identified:

Key achievements:

The project delivered a new framework for training and accrediting pharmacy technicians in medicines management.  The key changes were:

  • The framework has a greater focus on generic skills for medicines management rather  than on how specific tasks are performed;
  • The framework should be able to be delivered in all health care settings i.e. acute, community, mental health care providers;
  • Whilst primarily targeted to meet the needs of pharmacy technicians, some elements may be relevant and can be accessed by pharmacy assistants, pharmacists and other professions;
  • There is a clearer structure for progression through the scheme as skills are developed at higher levels; foundation, intermediate and advanced.
  • The scheme stretched the skill levels to a higher level than our existing scheme

Benefits identified:

  • The full benefits will take some time to realise as out first intake of trainees to the new scheme commenced in September 2016.
  • The project achieved greater engagement with non-acute NHS providers through this process which should continue and support them in the development of their pharmacy teams.
  • The scheme should be simpler and clearer for providers to run whilst still achieving good workforce development outcomes.

Lessons learned:

  • The project reinforced something that already placed a high value on which is engagement with the service in the design of our training programmes.  What occurred this time was engagement with a wider group of stakeholders which was very valuable.
  • The project team also found, compared to when they developed their original scheme, that there was a lot more training materials available that supported and complemented the new programme e.g. the CPPE consultation skills package.  By incorporating this, they could reduce duplication of effort and also support other providers in improving the penetration they want with their training materials.

Quality improvements noted:

  • Given the focus of the new programme on medicines optimisation, there should be improvements in the quality of medicines use from a better trained pharmacy workforce in terms of better outcomes and lower risk.
  • The trainees that go through the new programme should be better equipped to deliver services in line with NICE guidance.
  • Medicines optimisation: the safe and effective use of medicines to enable the best possible outcomes 2015 http://www.nice.org.uk/guidance/ng5.
  • Managing medicines in care homes 2014 https://www.nice.org.uk/guidance/sc1.


For more information, please contact Trevor Beswick, formally Director of South West Medicines Information & Training at University Hospitals Bristol NHS Foundation Trust, Bristol.

This Page was last updated on: 20 July 2017

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