Environmentally sustainable prescribing should be a core feature of undergraduate and postgraduate health care education, according to delegates at the 2022 NHS Education for Scotland annual conference.
Under the General Pharmaceutical Council’s (GPhC’s) standards for the initial education and training of pharmacists, there is no current requirement for environmentally sustainable prescribing to be taught on the MPharm degree.
However, during a session on ‘Taking Climate Action — reducing environmental harm from prescribing medicines’, hosted by the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) in Scotland and the Scottish Academy of Medical Royal Colleges on 28 April 2022, a poll of attendees found that 97% agreed that sustainable prescribing should be embedded into education.
All delegates polled (100%) agreed that healthcare leaders should do more to support environmentally sustainable prescribing and medicines use.
In October 2021, the RPS published four sustainability policies, which focused on prescribing and medicines use, medicines waste, prevention of ill health and improving infrastructure.
The policies say pharmacy teams can improve the sustainability of prescribing by providing medication reviews to identify potential medicines waste; sourcing reusable alternatives to single use plastics, and taking a person-centred approach to medicines use — including keeping up to date on developments in pharmacogenomics.
Commenting on the conference, Clare Morrison, director for Scotland at RPS, said: “[It is] vital that we take action on environmental sustainability, and we heard a clear message today that health professions need more education to be able to take action.
“I am delighted that the RPS is working jointly with the Scottish Academy of Medical Royal Colleges to try to achieve change.”
The two bodies are currently finalising a joint statement on how to reduce the environmental impact of prescribing, taking on board feedback from a roundtable held on 31 March 2022 that included representatives of every prescribing healthcare profession.