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Pharmacy Services Assistant Standard Release

Buttercups Training has spent the last few years facilitating the Trailblazer group of employers, to prepare apprenticeship standards to meet the needs of a modern pharmacy service. Following approval of the level 2 standard, we are delighted to announce that we will begin delivering the pharmacy services assistant apprenticeship from the end of April 2019. The pharmacy services assistant (PSA) standard has been developed by employers to ensure that it meets the needs of the industry, in a time when utilisation of apprenticeship funding can make a significant difference to training budgets, and spending the apprenticeship levy pot becomes a top priority (the first unused payments will drop off in May 2019).

Rollout Plan

The 22nd April will be the last day that we will be accepting enrolments onto the existing framework, to ensure that the standard can be introduced from May. If you would like to enrol onto the framework before the standard is released, please let us know. The standard covers the following areas:

  • dispensing and supply of medicines and medicinal products
  • team work
  • communication, pharmacy law and ethics
  • person-centred care
  • health and safety in the workplace

These encompass specific knowledge and skills outcomes, accompanied by behavioural standards, which must be demonstrated as part of the apprenticeship across all areas. The PSA needs to work under the supervision of a workplace training supervisor – either a pharmacist, pharmacy technician or other accountable healthcare professional – for a minimum duration of twelve months before they can move through the gateway for end point assessment. The workplace training supervisor will receive training for their role as part of the enrolment process, on our b-Hive learning system. The successful delivery of an apprenticeship is a collaboration between apprentice, employer and training provider, working together to ensure a supportive learning environment, which will allow the apprentice to thrive, whilst benefitting the wider organisation. This means that as part of the enrolment process, we must consider the suitability of the training site in terms of the environment and support network available.


We understand that the apprenticeship includes requirements that must be accommodated in the workplace. We are committed to ensuring a streamlined apprenticeship process, playing by the rules, for the programme from enrolment to completion. As part of the sign-up of an apprentice, we will engage with you to agree how the PSA apprenticeship will be delivered, negotiate price and delivery, and discuss the range within the standards that is relevant to the organisation’s needs. Both parties will also sign an agreement for services. The employer will need to support the apprentice with the necessary time and resources for training, and allow the workplace training supervisor sufficient time away from their usual duties to facilitate the learning of the apprentice. Buttercups will deliver the programme to the apprentice, liaising with the workplace training supervisor over progress and development. The apprentice will complete assessments during their time on the programme, which will form a portfolio of evidence to confirm their ability to meet the knowledge, skills and behaviours of the standard. When the apprentice has demonstrated their ability, they will discuss with the employer their progression towards the gateway and the end point assessment. Buttercups will provide support for efficient engagement with the programme, providing the following in the engagement pack:

  • scope of the PSA apprenticeship plus roles and responsibilities of those involved
  • programme delivery, including the flexibility to meet the specific needs of the employer


Using the knowledge, skills and behaviours within the standard, we have created detailed outcomes for our apprentices. The way we deliver the standards may vary throughout sectors. As such, we have designed a series of learning activities and assessments, allowing us to create training plans to suit different employers and sectors:

  • Primary care
  • Primary care with Medicines Counter Assistant Course / Royal Society for Public Health, Health Improvement certification
  • Secondary care
  • Secondary care with aseptics

These training plans can be adapted by employers to include any workplace-specific training sessions. The plans are then combined to create the final Individual Training Plan (ITP), tailored to the individual requirements of the learner based on their needs. In an increasingly demanding environment, it is important that employers develop their workforce to empower them to meet the demands of their organisation and the patients they encounter. Pharmacy Services has always been an innovative industry with employers embracing change on a continual basis, so there is no surprise that many employers are looking to technology to facilitate high quality training. We are invested in providing blended learning delivery of apprenticeship standards, utilising our bespoke designed b-Hive platform. This model allows the employer to reduce their overheads associated with off-site training and allows the apprentice to learn in an experiential way, which mirrors the stance of the pharmacy regulator for pharmacy healthcare professionals. In addition, blended learning develops the digital skills of the workforce, which reflects the changing practice of pharmacy. PSA apprentices should be remembering, understanding and applying information in a dependant, supervised model. Apprentices will be monitored throughout the PSA apprenticeship, via our teaching and review teams. The workplace training supervisor will have access to their learner’s progress via their own dedicated login to the b-Hive, and employers / training departments can be given access to view all of their training sites.

Off-the-Job Training

Off-the-job training is a mandatory requirement for any apprentice - at least 20% of their paid hours, over the planned duration of the apprenticeship, must be spent on off-the-job training. Off-the-job does not mean out of the workplace – please click here for information about how off-the-job training can be used beneficially in the workplace. We issue training logs for apprentices and their managers keep track of the off-the-job training, and provide evidence to Buttercups. We track off-the-job training recorded throughout the apprenticeship programme, but provide detailed guidance on how this can be best accommodated in the workplace.

End Point Assessment (EPA)

The end point assessment process is undertaken independently by an organisation registered on the government’s end point assessment organisation register, as chosen by the employer. We will provide information about available EPA organisations, to make the process of selecting an organisation as simple as possible.

Stage 1

  • Knowledge test

Stage 2

  • Simulated observation with questions and answers (in the workplace)
  • Professional discussion with supporting portfolio of evidence (in the workplace)

Throughout the programme, the tutor will teach, assess and develop the apprentice ready for the end point assessment, with support from our welfare team, learner review team and functional skills team for additional teaching, learning and support. We will provide further teaching beyond twelve months if the learner fails a mock EPA or has not been progressing in line with the training plan. We will prepare the apprentices to express their thoughts and ideas thoroughly. Please contact us for further information.

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