Pharmacists “absolutely critical” to Scotland’s healthcare ambitions

The “clinical leadership” of pharmacists and pharmacy technicians is “absolutely critical” to realising Scotland’s healthcare ambitions in the coming years, the Scottish health secretary has said in a speech that made reference to the vital importance of community pharmacy.

Addressing the International Pharmaceutical Federation’s World Congress in Glasgow on Sunday 2 September, Scottish cabinet secretary for health and sport Jeane Freeman OBE described a number of challenges that exist in Scotland, including “unacceptable” inequalities, as evidenced by significant variations in life expectancy in Glasgow.

Addressing the audience of international pharmacy professionals, Ms Freeman said it was her “absolute belief” that pharmacists, “with your skills, professional commitment and clinical leadership”, will be vital to addressing this issue.

“The clinical leadership of our pharmacists and pharmacy technicians is absolutely critical if we are to realise the ambitions we have for healthcare in Scotland,” she said.

Important role for community pharmacy

“NHS pharmaceutical care in Scotland has attracted a well-earned UK and international reputation for innovative models of care, with community pharmacy playing a significant and crucial role,” Ms Freeman said, adding that Scotland’s chief pharmaceutical officer’s five-year strategy aims to strengthen and further develop this role.

This strategy “focuses on integrating and enhancing the role of pharmacy across all areas of pharmacy practice,” Ms Freeman said, as well as describing ways in which pharmacy services are already adapting to meet local needs.

Community pharmacy holds an important place in the strategy, Ms Freeman said: “As well as strengthening our core services, we’re looking at what more we can do to encourage more people to use their community pharmacy as a first port of call, particularly for ongoing self management support for people with long-term conditions.”

The minor ailments service, medication management and public health services are “central” to plans for community pharmacy, she said, adding that “making full use of clinical capacity in community pharmacy” would help ensure the population can access “the right care at the right time and in the right setting”.

Make use of digital

As well as playing to pharmacy professionals’ strengths, it is also important to help them develop their skill to respond to changing demand, Ms Freeman said. One of the “key enablers” to achieve this will be “improving access to and use of digital information and technologies,” she said.

Digital infrastructure can assist pharmacists and pharmacy technicians in increasing their clinical roles, she said, for example the use of automated technology in the dispensing process can “release time and capacity” for services.

Digital technologies, along with an enhanced clinical role, would open up “new and rewarding careers” for pharmacy professionals, Ms Freeman said.

 

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