A debate on how best to support pharmacists was held at the Senedd this week which saw Members of the Senedd (MSs) in full agreement on the vital role pharmacists play across the health service in Wales.
The debate was instigated after several MSs met with RPS earlier in March and were told of the worrying results of the latest RPS member wellbeing survey and the urgent need for support for pharmacy teams. Specifically, we called for greater investment in the pharmacy workforce, protected learning time within working hours and action to ensure pharmacy teams are given access to, and enabled to take appropriate rest breaks. A motion for debate was subsequently tabled.*
Nine MSs from across all parties spoke in the debate with Eluned Morgan, the Minister for Health and Social Care replying on behalf of the Welsh Government. Common themes that ran throughout the debate were:
- the need to urgently tackle the worrying results of the RPS wellbeing survey through further workforce investment, protected learning time and appropriate rest breaks.
- recognition of the dedication of the pharmacists in Wales across sectors throughout the pandemic in maintaining services, developing new treatments for Covid-19 and as part of the vaccine roll out.
- the need for the clinical skills of pharmacists to be fully integrated and recognised as a core part of the NHS.
The growing role of independent prescribing pharmacists, the new clinical community pharmacy contract and the work on developing an electronic prescribing system in Wales were also discussed.
Commenting on the debate, RPS Wales Chair Cheryl Way said: “The last few years have been particularly challenging for pharmacists and their teams. At RPS we’ve been clear to MSs that there must be renewed support and investment for the profession in Wales, particularly around protected learning time and wellbeing.
We were delighted with the unanimous, cross-party agreement on our calls in Senedd and will continue our positive engagement with the Welsh Government and MSs to make sure the changes that our members need come into practice.”
*The following Motion was agreed unanimously:
To propose that the Senedd:
1. Recognises the vital work pharmacists have undertaken throughout the pandemic, as well as their crucial role in supporting primary and secondary care.
2. Welcomes the new National Clinical Community Pharmacy Service coming into force on 1 April 2022.
3. Is concerned by results from the Royal Pharmaceutical Society’s 2021 Workforce Wellbeing Survey, which shows that nine out of 10 respondents were at high risk of burnout and one in three had considered leaving the profession altogether.
4. Calls on the Welsh Government to:
a) urgently reduce bureaucracy by introducing e-prescriptions and providing access to medical records;
b) ensure dedicated protected learning time within working hours for wellbeing and study;
c) invest in the pharmacy workforce to train more pharmacy staff and upskill existing staff.
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