Royal Pharmaceutical Society director of pharmacy and member experience Robbie Turner has said a pilot on protected learning time in community pharmacy in Wales should also be carried out in England and Scotland.
The year-long trial is being led by Health Education and Improvement Wales (HEIW) and is examining three models; a protected time-only version that provides up to 12 days to complete their CPD to develop their skills against a recognised framework; 12 days of protected time, including six with mentor input and support; and protected time for attending training for up to 15 days.
Mr Turner said "regular paid protected learning time should be standard practice for all pharmacists in all sectors, regardless of career stage".
"Professional development cannot be an optional extra that is fitted into personal time outside work," he added.
"For years pharmacists have demonstrated enormous goodwill and used their own time to acquire new skills and knowledge which are essential to their role, or delivering a new service. This can cause an increase in stress and burnout as pharmacists feel they cannot switch off after work."
He said it was time pharmacists had "parity" with other healthcare sectors and insisted protected learning time can boost morale and ultimately benefit patients.
"Apart from professional advancement, protected learning time as a group can help with team-building and improving staff morale, which is essential to wellbeing, as well as improving services to patients," Mr Turner said.
"As pharmacists become more closely embedded in the multi-disciplinary team and take on more clinical roles, protected learning time will become even more crucial in providing safe services to patients.
"The pilot on protected learning time taking place through HEIW is an excellent initiative. We’re calling for it to be replicated on a bigger scale in England and Scotland so more data can be collected on the approaches that most benefit pharmacists and to help support protected learning time for pharmacists to become reality across Great Britain."