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New powers for dental and pharmacy staff to free up appointments

New powers for dental and pharmacy staff to free up appointments

The move will streamline processes within dental and pharmacy settings and improve patient experiences.

Government announces plans to give greater powers to pharmacy technicians, dental therapists and hygienists following two public consultations
The move will help to free up access to care for patients across dental practices and pharmacies
The new plans build on efforts to improve access to primary care, including through Pharmacy First and the Dental Recovery Plan
Patients will have faster, simpler and fairer access to primary care as the government gives new powers to pharmacy technicians, dental hygienists and dental therapists to supply and administer medicines, Primary Care Minister Andrea Leadsom announced today (Thursday 28 March).
The move follows two public consultations run by the government, which found widespread support for giving new powers to these staff to cut bureaucracy and support more efficient patient care.
Dental hygienists and therapists will be able to give patients certain types of medicines – including pain relief and fluoride – without sign off from a dentist. Pharmacy technicians will now be able to administer and supply specified medicines to certain groups of patients, without those patients having to see a prescriber. These changes will potentially enable pharmacy technicians to undertake tasks like administering vaccinations and providing consultations under Pharmacy First.
The move will also free up pharmacists’ and dentists’ time, allowing them to deliver more patient-facing clinical services and improving access to primary care services for patients.
Today’s announcement is part of the latest series of measures the government has brought forward to cut waiting lists and improve access to primary care, which includes the publication of the Dental Recovery Plan, which aims to free up 2.5 million more appointments this year, and the expansion of the Pharmacy First scheme, which enables pharmacists to treat seven common conditions, and will free up to 10 million GP appointments per year.
There are currently over 25,500 pharmacy technicians working in pharmacies across England, Scotland and Wales, while there are 9,733 dental hygienists and 6,198 dental therapists currently registered with the General Dental Council in the UK.
Primary Care Minister, Andrea Leadsom said:
We want to give patients faster, simpler and fairer access to the care they need, when they need it – and giving these powers to pharmacy technicians, dental therapists and hygienists will do just that.
Today’s announcement shows we are continuing to deliver on our promises made to improve access to primary care for all, building on the government’s long term ambitions, including through the Dental Recovery Plan and the expansion of the Pharmacy First Scheme.
We want to ensure our fantastic staff are recognised for the vital work that they do, working to their full scope of practice and delivering for everyone who walks through their doors.
Nicola Stockmann, President of the Association of Pharmacy Technicians UK, said:
APTUK welcome this update to legislation, recognising the value of the pharmacy technician profession. This is a landmark moment for the expansion of access for patients to pharmacy services in a pressured healthcare landscape without compromising patient care.
Miranda Steeples, President of The British Society of Dental Hygiene and Therapy, said:
BSDHT welcomes plans to enable our professions to work to the full extent of their skillset and give them new powers that enable them to offer patients the care they need.
Everyone will benefit from an oral healthcare team that runs more smoothly and uses its time effectively.
The public consultations ran in 2023 and received overwhelming support, with 97% of respondents agreeing that dental hygienists and therapists should be given new powers, and 84% of respondents agreeing for pharmacy technicians. Respondents commenting on both sets of proposals included members of the public, NHS and health service delivery bodies, and private and not-for-profit organisations.
The changes fall under the government and NHS’s Primary Care Recovery Plan, which sets out the vision to ensure the NHS can deliver at the very maximum of its capability, utilising all its professional staff and contractors, including in pharmacies and dental practices.
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