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Pharmacy Technician
Bolton NHS Foundation Trust

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Kathy Parsons

My name is Kathy Parsons I am a pharmacy technician at the Royal Bolton Hospital. It involves patient interactions with patients. Finding out what medications have come in from home and making sure they’ve got the right medications for the hospital stay. Preparing, as soon as they come in from the hospital we’re actually preparing for them to go home from the hospital making sure they’ve got the right drugs all the time on the wards and enough to go home with. Making sure that the patient has got the right drug at the right time.


I’ve never worked in a chemist shop I was actually when I came out of college. Maths and English, I did Biology I did cooking, food and nutrition because that’s what I wanted to do I wanted to go into catering, I enjoyed cooking when I was at school and I went on to catering college and from there I became a catering manager I went into restaurants and was a catering manager. I enjoyed, but then I got married, I had children and unfortunately catering is long hours, late nights, early mornings and when you’ve got two little babies it get on you. I didn’t enjoy it. I actually went part time at a local supermarket, went to a bakery shop first then went to a local supermarket. Part time there, became till trainer, customer service desk and enjoyed that but it’s not as rewarding as being a catering manager or now being a pharmacy technician.


I saw a job for a store assistant which I thought sounded interesting. Fancied working in the hospital in the pharmacy department, wanted to learn all the names of drugs, so that’s how I started. I started as a mature student. At the time it was just on job learning, whereas that was just to stock up the wards, just to make sure they had enough stock on the wards. After a couple of years of that they asked me would I like to start dispensing of the drugs. Which I had to learn how to label them, lots of codes of what the doctors used. In store training and then after a couple of years of that I became a student technician where it was still based in Bolton but I went on a day release course to Preston college to get a qualification to become a pharmacy technician. It was a lot of work but to actually find out what I was buying, or being prescribed, or what I was giving the patients to actually know what the drugs do and how they help them, I found very interesting.


I qualified for two years now I can go on and there is talk about me doing another qualification. It’s not just a case of getting them of the shelf and giving them out, they have to be checked before we can dispense them, then dispensing them, then they’ve got to be checked to go out to the patient. That’s my next step to actually get qualified to check them before they go out to the patient. It was a bit fluke that I got a job that I really enjoyed and I’ve progressed in it and I’ve got the qualifications in it.

Kathryn went to catering college after school and enjoyed a career in the restaurant and catering industry. When she had children she found the working hours did not suit family life. After a short period working in a supermarket, she saw an advert for a pharmacy store assistant. She got the job and has since worked her way up to a pharmacy technician. She feels that she has now found a job that she both likes doing and fits well with her home life.

More information about Pharmacy and other dispensing assistants

average salary

The UK average salary is £29,813

average weekly hours

There are 37.5 hours in the average working week

12%  male 
88%  female 

The UK workforce is 47% female and 53% male

Future employment

Future employment?

? Pharmacy and other dispensing assistants work under the supervision of pharmacists or other relevant health professionals to dispense drugs and medicines, issue pre-packaged prescriptions, sell over-the-counter medication, dispense spectacles and contact lenses and other related products.
Entrants usually possess GCSEs/S grades. Training is typically received on-the-job, supplemented by study towards vocational qualifications. NVQs/ SVQs are available in relevant areas and at various levels, and apprenticeships may be available.
  • Checks received prescriptions for legality and accuracy and confirms patients’ or customers’ details;
  • Maintains records of prescriptions received and drugs issued;
  • Checks stock levels, rotates stock, orders new stock from supplying companies and ensures that products are stored appropriately;
  • Arranges displays of merchandise;
  • Relays information to customers under the direction of pharmacist or other health professional;
  • Carries out sales transaction, wraps and packages goods.
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