Last month, pharmacists and pharmacy technicians from across Scotland met at the Scottish Parliament to discuss how to better enable people with disabilities to work in pharmacy. This followed a survey of RPS members, which identified that living with a disability is considered by RPS Members to be the biggest barrier to working in pharmacy.
The round table brought together a wide range of pharmacists and pharmacy organisations, and was chaired by Jeremy Balfour MSP, Convener of the Scottish Parliament’s Cross-Party Group on Disability. The meeting was also attended by the Chief Pharmaceutical Officer Alison Strath.
Today, Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS), pharmacists’ professional leadership body, publishes the outcomes from this roundtable, which have been agreed with all participants. The themes cover three areas: Culture change, respecting individuals and enabling flexible working.
The agreed outcomes are:
- Organisations and employers should commit to a culture change to better support people with disabilities, including encouraging people to speak up about their disabilities and the support they need at work.
- Organisations and employers should use resources on disability such as those from RPS (including tackling microaggressions and breaking down barriers) and GPhC to better support people with disabilities.
- Pharmacy professionals with disabilities should be encouraged to tell their stories of working in pharmacy so that others can learn good practice and better understand the challenges in the workplace. This will also encourage other people with disabilities to speak up.
- Education about disabilities should be embedded in training for all pharmacy professionals, to better support patients and colleagues, including line managers and team leaders.
- Pharmacy needs to engage with the public to address negative public perceptions of being served by a pharmacist with a disability.
- Organisations and employers should review their policies, such as absence policies, to ensure they’re not unfairly discriminating against people with a disability or a long term condition.
- Organisations and employers should encourage individuals to have open conversations to identify their strengths and to make best use of their skills.
- Organisations and employers should consider what options are needed to create better workplaces for everyone to be enabled to do their job.
- Organisations and employers should be aware of the guidance on making adjustments in the workplace from the Department of Work & Pensions, and also the funding available to make adjustments through an Access to Work grant.
- Organisations and employers should consider how to offer flexible working routinely to all employees.
- To have a better understanding of the workforce and their needs, organisations should commit to collecting disability data on their workforce.
Everyone who attended this round table has committed to implementing these actions in their own workplaces. Given the significant number of stakeholders present, representing different pharmacy teams and sectors, RPS is confident that these outcomes will have broad reach and lasting impact.
Speaking about the publication of the outcomes, Clare Morrison, Director for Scotland at RPS said:
“It was really important to bring people together to explore how we can enable people with disabilities to work in pharmacy.
The round table discussion showed just how many opportunities there are to make improvements.
“Number one of these is a culture change to better support people with disabilities and this is something every person in every pharmacy team can get behind: it really felt like we started that commitment at the round table and I hope now that spreads throughout pharmacy in Scotland.”