The planned annual 2020 meeting, being hosted by Croatia, was unfortunately postponed due the unprecedented global Covid 19 pandemic and travel restrictions. The EAPT Board took the decision to delay the annual meeting after careful consideration and the need to uphold the safety of its members. They are currently planning the 2021 annual meeting.
The 2019 meeting, in April, was held in the beautiful city of Stockholm, Sweden and was hosted by Farmaciforbundet, the Department of Pharmacy and Health; part of the Swedish Unionen. As usual, the meeting was lively, exhilarating and full of discussion, networking, exploring our differences, recognising our similarities and sharing our experiences on many topics related to pharmacy technicians, pharmacy practice and national policies. We were nine countries Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Norway, Portugal, Slovenia, Sweden and United Kingdom, all giving and sharing national updates and participating in the work of EAPT.
After a Board of Directors meeting in the afternoon and a wonderful welcome evening on the 25th, the meeting’s programme for the 26th was packed, as ever, providing the member countries with updates on work planned from the last meeting and then onto discussing and agreeing future work and collaborations. A standing agenda item is for each country to give a brief verbal update on the key points from a written report they have sent in before the meeting. This year there was a strong theme coming from the member countries indicating that although Pharmacy Technicians are key members of the pharmacy team, their position, particularly in community pharmacy, is becoming increasingly challenged as pharmacy practice changes and pharmacists become fearful of their position and their pharmacy business. Many of the countries reported that there is a shortage of pharmacy technicians and there is a need to train more. Also, many countries are looking at the education of pharmacy technicians and their pharmacy technician associations are working to ensure this is fit for purpose for the increasing content of the job role. However, again, there are national challenges, as it appears keeping the status quo is desired by some governments. For example, in Germany, mostly all healthcare professional training is 3 years compared to 2.5 years for pharmacy technicians. The German association ‘Adexa’ has pushed for this difference to be addressed and the education content of their qualification to be adjusted to meet the needs of newly qualified pharmacy technicians. This, however, has disappointedly been rejected.
EAPTs ongoing work plan includes conducting a ‘technology survey’ comparing the extent and impact of technology on the pharmacy technician role; ‘hospital pharmacy technician scope of practice survey’ comparing the role across the EAPT member countries’; and a survey to scope where and how pharmacy technician in the EAPT member countries administer vaccinations.
Our 2018 annual meeting, held in Glasgow, Scotland on 31st August, took place this year to coincide with the International Pharmaceutical Federation (FIP) 78th congress. We were an eleven country delegation including Croatia, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Norway, Portugal, Slovenia, Sweden and the United Kingdom (UK).
EAPT President, Christina Durinck, officially opened the meeting and welcomed the member countries representatives, some of whom were new to the EAPT meetings, to Scotland. It was delightful to welcome some new faces along with many of the regular country representatives.
As usual, the agenda for the meeting was busy and included the Board and Treasurer’s report. The Board had been particularly active during the last year and reported that there had been five board meetings. The Treasurer’s report reviewed the EAPT 2017/2018 finance balance spreadsheet, showing the annual income from the country membership fee and the outgoing expenses mostly for the website and expenses owed to Portugal for EAPTs organisational registration.
A major aspect of the 2018 meeting discussions were the plans for collaboration between EAPT & FIP. President Christina gave an update and informed that the FIP Director for Workforce Education and FIP’s lead for Pharmacy Technician and Support Staffed Education were attending the meeting.
At the meeting FIP showed a positive attitude for pharmacists’ closer working with the pharmacy cadres’ workforce and their inclusivity within the pharmacy team. FIP outlined their future plans for researching and supporting pharmacy cadres. EAPT were encouraged to share their thoughts for the future collaboration.
To give EAPT direction, the President, Christina, presented a draft 3 year strategy to the member country representatives. The strategy included the overall objectives, specific objectives, activities and responsibilities. There was unanimous agreement for the draft strategy and a call for the work to be expanded with a review of the language and for this to be put into a presentable format.
Following the EAPT meeting, the country representatives attend the FIP Pharmacy Technicians (PT) symposium alongside 90 other delegates. EAPT submitted and presented a poster outlining the purpose, function and activities of EAPT. The President and EAPT Secretary also chaired parts of the PT Steam B sessions and workshops.
Our 2017 annual meeting held the third EAPT Board elections for 2017-2020. Nominations, received prior to the meeting, gave more than one nominee for the Vice President, Treasurer and Members posts and thus secret ballots were conducted at the meeting. Posts with one nominee, Secretary and President were approved by the EAPT country members. Following the process stated in the internal rules, the new Board and President were duly elected. The new Board were tasked with a number of priorities to take forward. One priority was the opening of a dedicated EAPT bank account and the development of the EAPT financial strategy and setting of future membership fees. Another priority was for the development of an EAPT communication strategy as well as setting longer time goals.
There were two presentations given during the meeting; EU Falsified Medicines Directive and Digitalisation and Automation. Following the presentations it was agreed that a scoping survey on the use and impact of technology on pharmacy practise across Europe would be beneficial. A working group was tasked with taking this forwards. The FIP report on ‘Technicians and pharmacy support workforce cadres working with pharmacists: An introductory global descriptive study’, was discussed and EAPTs ongoing collaboration with FIP. All country members present agreed to hold the 2018 EAPT meeting in Glasgow, Scotland to coincide with the FIP congress and the Pharmacy Technician symposium.