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Pharmacy assistant

Pharmacy assistant

Pharmacy assistants and dispensing assistants work alongside pharmacy technicians and under the supervision of a registered pharmacist in both hospital and community settings. Staff falling into this category will have a range of roles and responsibilities and therefore have different job titles. In the community sector these will include dispenser, dispensing assistant and pharmacy assistant. Within the hospital sector, the title pharmacy assistant is more commonly used.

Broad range of duties

The range of duties is broad and varies depending on the post, but may include the following:

  • taking in and handing out prescriptions
  • dispensing prescriptions
  • using dispensary and stores computer systems to generate stock lists and labels
  • helping to maintain reasonable dispensary stock levels
  • ordering items for use within a department
  • receiving, loading, unloading incoming goods from wholesalers, manufacturers and elsewhere
  • delivering pharmaceuticals and other goods to sites within a pharmacy department, and wards/departments/clinical areas
  • selling over the counter medicines
  • answering queries on the supply and availability of medicines, where this is within their competence
  • responding to telephone and face to face enquiries of a routine nature from patients, their representatives, members of the public and a wide range of staff groups, either in a pharmacy or in a ward, and referring queries to the relevant member of the pharmacy team when necessary
  • drawing any problems identified or queries raised to the attention of pharmacists or pharmacy technicians
  • pre-packing, assembling and labelling medicines
  • assisting with the manufacture of medicines
  • preparing medicines aseptically (preparing medicines in a very clean environment using special techniques)
  • ensuring that health and safety requirements are met.

Some posts may require staff to work on a rota basis.

Entry requirements and training

For entry, applicants will usually need to have a good standard of education and some GCSEs at grade C or above (or equivalent) can be an advantage. Some posts may require specific GCSE grades or (equivalent) - such as A to C in English, maths and a science subject.

Applicants would also usually need:

  • good communication skills
  • the ability to read and carry out instructions
  • the ability to pay attention to detail
  • manual dexterity.

Pharmacy assistants will train on the job and work towards a level 2 NVQ Certificate in Pharmacy Service Skills (QCF)

Some trusts may offer the chance to train through an apprenticeship for pharmacy assistants. For general information about apprenticeships, please click here

Career prospects

With experience and achievement in relevant qualifications, it is possible to progress to senior pharmacy assistant roles and onto trainee pharmacy technician positions.

Job vacancies

Job vacancies appear in a range of sources. NHS employers advertise on the NHS Jobs website. You could also write directly to hospital personnel/human resource departments or chief pharmacists. For community pharmacy positions, contact the company directly.

Further information

For further information on a career as a pharmacy assistant, please contact:

General Pharmaceutical Council
25 Canada Square
Canary Wharf
E14 5LQ

Tel: 0203 713 8000
Email: info@pharmacyregulation.org
Website: http://www.pharmacyregulation.org and http://www.pharmacyregulation.org/education/support-staff


The National Pharmaceutical Association
Mallinson House
38-42 St Peter's Street
St Albans
Tel: 01727 832161
Website: http://www.npa.co.uk/