Royal Pharmaceutical Society in Scotland discussed the future of the pharmacy workforce with the Cabinet Secretary for Health and Social Care, during a panel discussion on the future of the health and care workforce at the SNP conference in Aberdeen on 17 October. RPS Director for Scotland, Laura Wilson, participated in the discussion alongside representatives from other health professional organisations, and highlighted the challenges and opportunities for the pharmacy workforce in Scotland.
Laura described the challenges around both attracting potential pharmacists into the profession and encouraging pharmacists to stay within the profession, and discussed solutions to this, including:
- 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.
- 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.)
- Looking at different education models to ensure pharmacy training is accessible, and which will support recruitment and retention, particularly in remote and rural areas.
- Specifically supporting recruitment to remote and rural areas by improving transport infrastructure, ensuring availability of housing and childcare options for working parents.
- Putting in place better IT systems, most importantly shared patient data, to support holistic decision making and enable pharmacists to make best use of their prescribing skills. Laura stated that this would be transformational for pharmacy practice.
Speaking after the fringe session, Laura said:
“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.
“I was particularly encouraged by Michael Matheson’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.
“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.”
(Photo credit: Andrew Perry)