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RPS holds discussion with Cabinet Secretary on pharmacy workforce ‘challenges’ and ‘opportunities’


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Pharmacists would be provided with patients’ records in advance to assist in prescribing medicines and treatment

Laura Wilson, Director of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) in Scotland discussed the future of the pharmacy workforce with Michael Matheson, Cabinet Secretary for Health and Social Care at the SNP conference.

The event, which took place on 17 October in Aberdeen, Scotland featured other health officials including Colin Poolman, Director of the Royal College of Nursing; Kenryck Lloyd-Jones, Public Affairs and Policy Manager for Scotland, Chartered Society of Physiotherapy; and Chris Marshall, Deputy Editor at Holyrood Communications.

The Scottish government recently unveiled its national workforce strategy for health and social care, laying out its plans for achieving recovery, growth, and transformation.

Wilson highlighted the challenges and opportunities for the pharmacy workforce in Scotland to attract potential pharmacists into the profession and encourage them to stay within the profession.

“This was a great opportunity to discuss with the Cabinet Secretary the challenges which exist for the pharmacy workforce in Scotland and to highlight some of the solutions which need to be implemented to ensure a pharmacy workforce in Scotland which is fit for the future,” she said.

“One action which Scottish Government could take immediately and would be transformational for the pharmacy workforce in Scotland would be providing pharmacists with access to patient records, so they could make best use of their prescribing skills and treat patients holistically. This is something RPS in Scotland will continue to advocate very strongly for.”

Laura outlined solutions to overcome the difficulties faced by the sector:

  1. The need for effective workforce planning for pharmacists, similar to what is already in place for other healthcare professions so we know what we need to recruit to ensure adequate provision of pharmacy services.
  2. Ensuring that pharmacists are provided with the roles and appropriate skill mix to allow them to make full use of their clinical knowledge and skills. (By 2026, all pharmacists will come out of their undergraduate training as prescribers.)
  3. Looking at different education models to ensure pharmacy training is accessible, and which will support recruitment and retention, particularly in remote and rural areas.
  4. Specifically supporting recruitment to remote and rural areas by improving transport infrastructure, and ensuring availability of housing and childcare options for working parents.
  5. Putting in place better IT systems, most importantly shared patient data, to support holistic decision-making and enable pharmacists to make the best use of their prescribing skills. Laura stated that this would be transformational for pharmacy practice.

The RPS director also hailed the Cabinet Secretary’s comments on wishing to see “training models for healthcare reformed so those in remote or rural regions who want to train in a specialism would be able to obtain the relevant training and qualifications locally.

“This would be of great benefit, particularly to remote and rural areas of Scotland which struggle to recruit and retain pharmacists who have trained in Aberdeen and Glasgow,” she further added.


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