I’VE worked with some excellent pharmacy technicians that have been crucial to the smooth running of community pharmacies. Their knowledge and skills were impressive and their support critical.
And we know that hospital techs have significant professional responsibilities and run departments without the need for pharmacists. I firmly believe that pharmacy technicians are the essential link in the community pharmacy chain to ensure it flourishes and delivers what the public needs and the Governments demand.
But, allowing technicians to become associate members of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society is neither necessary nor desirable. I’ll tell you why, and it has nothing to do with a lack of respect for techs (actually it’s the opposite). There are a number of reasons:
1. Other than the fact that techs are also regulated by the GPhC and would like to access the Faculty, I have not read a compelling case for allowing membership.
2. The argument that not having access to the Faculty will limit the professional development of technicians does not stack up. Look at the range of roles now performed by techs compared to 10 years ago.
3. The APT UK seems to be a strong organisation with a vocal and talented membership. I think it could do better on its own. They don’t really need us.
4. The RPS is now doing a great job representing pharmacists, navigating its way through ranges of opinions from a disparate profession. If we also add technicians into that mix it will inevitably create unresolvable conflicts.
5. Allowing membership of the RPS would weaken its niche offer and potentially pharmacist member numbers could irreversibly decline.
It would be all too easy for the RPS to open it’s arms to 22,000 new associate members – any organisation would love to increase its member numbers, just think of the financial benefits as well as the intellectual capital.
But we don’t need a marriage of convenience: we can support, respect, learn from each other and collaborate to strengthen the pharmacy profession without intimately entwining our futures.
And, pharmacy technicians do have a strong future, of that there is no doubt. However, while I think we are better apart I am open to be convinced otherwise.
But for the moment, my feeling is: marry in haste, repent at leisure.