Pharmacy assistants work either in a community or retail pharmacy or in a hospital or clinical pharmacy.
Community or Retail
You could be:
dealing with enquiries from customers, face to face and on the phone
giving basic health advice to customers and selling over the counter medicines
taking in and handing out prescriptions
packaging and labelling prescribed items
checking stocks and ordering supplies
referring customers to the pharmacist if need be
keeping records of customers and stock
Hospital or Clinical
You could be:
delivering medicines to other departments or wards
checking stock, ordering and storing supplies
keeping records as required.
Within the NHS Agenda for Change scales, pharmacy assistants' salaries are usually on Band 2, £19,609 to £21,615 a year. The current pay scales are from April 2021.
Many dispensing or pharmacy assistants work outside the NHS. Starting pay is often based on the National Minimum Wage (NMW) or the National Living Wage (NLW).
As of 1 April 2021 the National Minimum Wage is £4.62 an hour for workers aged 16 to 17, £6.56 an hour for workers aged 18 to 20 and £8.36 an hour for workers aged 21 to 22. The National Living Wage is £8.91 for workers aged 23 and over. With experience hourly rates can reach up to £9.50 an hour.
In community and retail pharmacy you work in shops, where hours are regular and may include weekends or evenings.
In hospitals and clinics you work in laboratories or dispensaries or in health centres and may have to work shifts.
Pharmacy assistants usually wear a white lab coat or uniform.
patient and empathetic when dealing with members of the public.
You should have:
excellent attention to detail
good communication skills for dealing with a wide range of people
good customer care skills
the ability to follow instructions and procedures.
In line with the General Pharmaceutical Council’s rules, you must work towards a Scottish Vocational Qualification (SVQ) in Pharmacy Services at SCQF Level 5, which has to commence within 3 months of starting a job.
If working in a hospital setting, you would also complete the Mandatory Induction Standards for healthcare support workers.
Buttercups Training Ltd offers a full range of training courses for pharmacy assistants.
You will be required to keep your skills and knowledge up to date by undertaking continuous professional development (CPD) courses throughout your career.
You may be able to apply for a pre-registration trainee pharmacy technician post.
As a pharmacy technician you could work in quality control in a hospital.
In larger retail pharmacies, you could specialise in marketing or sales.
There is a graded promotion scheme in the National Health Service (NHS).