Pharmacy support worker

Pharmacy support workers are also known as dispensing assistants. They are a key part of the pharmacy team, carrying out essential tasks, such as ordering, preparing and dispensing medicines. They work in distribution departments, dispensaries and clinical departments on wards within a hospital as well as within the NHS contracted community pharmacy setting.

The Role(s)

NHS pharmacy support workers in Scotland work under the supervision of a pharmacy technician or a registered pharmacist, tasks normally include:

  • ordering medicines for wards, departments and patients
  • remove as not their rolecarrying out routine pharmaceutical stock checks
  • assembling and labelling medicines

Pharmacy support workers also work closely with other healthcare professionals to ensure the required medication is available to patients.

Skills, Interests and Abilities

To work as an pharmacy support worker, useful skills include:

  • strong communication and interpersonal skills
  • good numeracy and IT skills
  • ability to work as part of a team

 As a pharmacy support worker, you will need to be:

  • able to work accurately with excellent attention to detail
  • able to follow and carry out instructions
  • enthusiastic and self-motivated
  • responsible
  • able to understand guidelines on medicines

Entry Requirements

To apply for a job as a pharmacy support worker, you are likely to need a good standard of general education, including English and Maths at SQA National 4, or equivalent

The qualifications asked for may also vary depending on the recruiting NHSScotland board. For example, some boards may ask for relevant work experience. Even where this is not specified, it could be an advantage if you have knowledge or experience in hospital or community pharmacy. You are advised to contact each individual board to find out its specific requirements.

Modern Apprenticeships

Modern Apprenticeships offer those aged over 16 paid employment with the opportunity to train for jobs at craft, technician and management level.

Currently, there are no Modern Apprenticeships leading directly to a pharmacy support worker role in NHSScotland.

Learning and Development

Once you are employed as a pharmacy support worker in NHSScotland, you’ll need to undertake the SQA SVQ Pharmacy Services - Level 2 (SCQF Level 5). In addition, within the hospital setting you must complete the Mandatory Induction Standards for healthcare support workers.

You’ll be encouraged to develop your career and it may be possible to apply for a pre-registration trainee pharmacy technician post. This could lead to a pharmacy technician role within a hospital or community pharmacy setting.

Professional Bodies

Find out more information from these regulatory and professional bodies:

The General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC)

The General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) is the regulatory body for pharmacists and pharmacy technicians. It accredits education programmes and promotes standards for the safe and effective practice of pharmacy, to ensure public health and safety is protected. Find out more on the GPhC website.