Pharmacy Support Staff


Types of Pharmacy Support Staff

Pharmacy support staff is a general term for anyone working within the field of pharmacy who is neither a pharmacy technician nor a pharmacist. They form part of the pharmacy team and work under the supervision of pharmacy technicians and principally, pharmacists.
These staff may be known as pharmacy assistants, pharmacy support workers, healthcare assistants or dispensing assistants. They will be referred to as pharmacy assistants for the rest of this page for ease of understanding.

Where do Pharmacy Assistants work?

Pharmacy assistants are employed in the hospital pharmacy, community pharmacy (sometimes called retail or high street pharmacy) or industry sector.

Pharmacy assistants work in a variety of areas in within these sectors. These could include:

  • Dispensary
  • Outreach or satellite pharmacies
  • Stores and Distribution
  • Pharmaceutical Manufacturing (Sterile, non-sterile or aseptic)
  • Over the counter sales

What does a Pharmacy Assistant do?

Roles and responsibilities can vary enormously depending on what sector they are employed in and which department they are based.
Duties could include:

  • Sale of over the counter medicines and the provision of information to customers on symptoms and products
  • Prescription receipt and issue
  • Dispensing prescribed items (including the generation of labels)
  • Ordering, receiving and storing pharmaceutical stock
  • The supply of pharmaceutical stock
  • Preparation and manufacturing of pharmaceutical products (including aseptic products)

More information on pharmacy support staff roles can be found on the NHS Careers website


The regulatory body for pharmacy, the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC), require all staff working as pharmacy assistants to be trained in and working towards units of the Level 2 NVQ Certificate in Pharmacy Service Skills (QCF) which are relevant to their day to day activities.
Units of the Level 2 NVQ Certificate in Pharmacy Service Skills (QCF) relate to a key part of the job role or a specific area of work.

Career prospects

Once you have completed your pharmacy assistant training, it is up to you what path you take next.  Many people are content to remain working in their current workplace and continue to do their daily job as they did before.
For others, the glimpse into potential career development and new experiences may mean that they would like to take the next step and train as a Pharmacy Technician. The progression from the Level 2 NVQ Certificate in Pharmacy Service Skills (QCF) to the Level 3 NVQ Diploma in Pharmacy Service Skills (QCF) is a natural path that many people take.

Additional learning events

The opportunity has arisen for Pharmacy Assistants to attend additional learning events. The learning events are delivered in line with our apprenticeship programme and focus on pharmacy knowledge. Internal Quality Assurers can nominate a learner by visiting the learning events page at a cost of £75 per learning event.

For further information

Dawn Edwins, London Pharmacy Education and Training

If you are interested in our learning events, please visit the 'What attendees said about this learning event' page. Alternatively if you would like to view general comments, please visit 'What service users have said about LPET'.