Scotland to increase MPharm student places by 40 per cent
The Scottish Government has outlined plans to expand the country’s pharmacist workforce in a new strategy document.
The national health and care workforce strategy, published on Friday March 11, reveals that by 2024-25 places on undergraduate pharmacy courses at Scotland’s two schools of pharmacy will have increased from 231 to 320, a rise of 38.5 per cent.
The workforce blueprint also reveals that the NHS in Scotland is to offer more registered pharmacists the opportunity to train as independent prescribers.
On top of the previously announced 240 funded places on IP courses to be delivered over two staggered cohorts this year, a further 165 places will be offered “in the first three months of 2022”.
The Government said that its plans for the next 24 months include “national clinical skills for pharmacists programme to support community pharmacists across Scotland to become independent prescribers”.
Other plans include ‘bolstering’ the NHS Pharmacy First service “to enhance the range of services patients can access form community pharmacists without having to go to their GP”.
The Government said it is investing more money through the primary care improvement fund to offer GPs support from health professionals such as pharmacists and physiotherapists, with investment of £155m in 2021-22 to be followed by £170m in the next financial year.
The strategy document also touches on the recruitment of pharmacy staff to general practice, revealing that the number of whole-time equivalent pharmacists working in GP surgeries rose from 132 to 543 between 2018 and March 2021, while the number of pharmacy technicians has risen from 38 to 248.
Additional funding is being channelled through a winter planning and preparedness programme, which will see more pharmacists recruited “to support patients with repeat prescriptions and medicine reviews”.
“Through this investment we aim to have health board delivered pharmacy and nursing support to every one of Scotland’s 925 general practices,” said the Government.
In its foreword, the Scottish Government said it is seeking to create a “national framework to achieve our vision of a sustainable, skilled workforce with attractive career choices where all are respected and valued for the work they do”.
It added: “We acknowledge the significant pressures that the workforce has faced and that sustained actions are required, from planning for and attracting into the workforce through to support and development of our workforce.
“This is critical to Scotland’s recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic, within the wider context of addressing inequalities and making a continued shift to early intervention and prevention.”