Pharmacy Inquiry: Debate erupts over professional boundaries in community pharmacy

Labour’s Paulette Hamilton has raised concerns regarding the increasing reliance on pharmacy technicians in clinical practice due to staffing shortages
within pharmacies.

At the recent Pharmacy Inquiry session, Hamilton highlighted the mounting pressure on technicians to take on more responsibilities beyond their qualifications,
attributing it to the launch of Pharmacy First in January.

With almost 50,000 Pharmacy First consultations conducted in the first month alone as per a report by the Company Chemists’ Association, Hamilton expressed
apprehension about technicians being classified under the broad term of “pharmacy professionals,” blurring the distinction between their roles and those of
clinical pharmacists.

She further drew parallels between this situation and the scrutiny faced by physician associates (PAs) in GP practices following a patient’s death due to
misdiagnosis and cautioned against technicians performing tasks beyond their expertise and urged policymakers to prevent similar incidents in pharmacy settings.

Health Minister Dame Andrea Leadsom responded by defending the current approach, denying any “blurring of the edges” and emphasizing patient safety as the
top priority.