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Numbers to conjure with - Pharmacists as patients

Numbers to conjure with

Nobody knows exactly how many pharmacy technicians there are in Great Britain. At the last count, conducted in 1998 as part of a scoping exercise for validating the NVQ courses for pharmacy support staff, there were estimated to be 15,500 qualified technicians in the United Kingdom. Of these, 8,000 were in the community, 5,000 in hospital, 1,000 in academia, and 1,500 in industry. In addition there were nearly 27,000 dispensary or pharmacy assistants who had only attended a basic course or had no qualifications.

Now, nearly four years on, there may be an additional 2,000 qualified technicians. The fact that only 1,000 of them are members of the Association of Pharmacy Technicians gives pause for thought — there are a huge number of people associated with pharmacy departments or community pharmacists who are neither formally registered or regulated. This is not to suggest that there are not proper systems in place to ensure that support staff, whatever qualifications they have, provide a high level of service appropriate for their place of work. However, it does suggest that there are likely to be variations in standards without a formal regulatory or standard setting framework.

At a meeting of the Association of Pharmacy Technicians held earlier this week some of the issues that will face the Royal Pharmaceutical Society, as it deliberates moving to the registration and regulation of support staff, were discussed from the support staff perspective (p83). Whatever happens in the next year or so, one thing is certain: the provision of pharmacy services could embrace in the region of 75,000 people, and that is a force to be reckoned with.

Pharmacists as patients

The first meeting of the task force working with the Medicines Partnership programme took place this week (p87). Over the next two years the programme will tackle the thorny issue of why patients do not take their medicines as prescribed, and what can be done to get them on side.

As part of this initiative, The Journal would like to hear from pharmacists as patients. What is it like to have to take a medicine for life? Has the treatment of your condition affected your approach to patients? Have you always completed a course of treatment for an acute condition?

So, if you have a story to tell about your diabetes, asthma, arthritis, epilepsy, hypertension, high blood cholesterol or any other condition, please let us know. We understand the sensitivity of these topics, so we will treat the information confidentially and publish it anonymously, if appropriate.

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal URI: 20005868

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