Today, Laura Wilson, Director for Scotland at Royal Pharmaceutical Society, provided evidence to the Health, Social Care and Sport Committee as part of their inquiry into Healthcare in remote and rural areas.
In a wide-ranging evidence session, Laura noted the challenges of ensuring a sustainable population of pharmacists in remote and rural areas. She also highlighted the need to consider and develop alternative pathways to education to encourage those in remote and rural areas to choose pharmacy as a career and enable them to maintain connection with their local community.
Currently, people living in remote and rural areas are required to travel to Glasgow or Aberdeen to undertake pharmacy training. The Royal Pharmaceutical Society would like to see alternative education and training pathways developed, such as “grow your own” models, to support remote and rural areas to develop and retain local pharmacists.
During the evidence session, Laura made several other points, including:
- Providing pharmacists, particularly in the community sector, with access to patient health records would be especially helpful to patients in remote and rural areas, creating the potential for patients to access appropriate care far closer to home.
- There is an urgent need for pharmacy workforce planning, especially for remote and rural areas; and data collection to inform this, such as where pharmacy students are coming from and where they are choosing to work.
- Pharmacists have highlighted the cost of living in remote and rural areas, in particular, the cost of housing, as a barrier to practicing. In order that this can be addressed, a holistic approach to workforce planning for remote and rural areas which addresses wider cost of living and infrastructure concerns is essential.
Commenting on the evidence session, Laura said:
“Today was a great opportunity to discuss with the Committee the challenges which exist for pharmacists and pharmacy in remote and rural areas of Scotland, and to highlight some of the solutions which need to be implemented to ensure that the pharmacy workforce in these areas is sustainable.
“It is vital that we consider alternative pathways to education to ensure pharmacy is an accessible and desirable career option for people from all parts of the country. Appropriate levels of funding should accompany this to ensure these models are viable.
“Comprehensive workforce planning for pharmacy both nationally and in remote and rural areas is a priority. This planning should consider wider factors, including the local infrastructure such as supply of housing in remote and rural areas, to ensure pharmacists are able to live and work in these areas.”
“Finally, providing pharmacists with read/write access to patient records is essential for remote and rural areas, providing patients with the ability to access care closer to home and removing the need for unnecessary travel, which is often costly and time consuming.”
You can watch the full evidence session, here.