Pharmacies should collect workforce disability data, concludes Scottish pharmacy roundtable

Pharmacists and pharmacy technicians from across Scotland met to discuss how to better enable people with disabilities to work in pharmacy.
Clare Morrison

Pharmacy organisations should commit to collecting workforce disability data to better understand the needs of their staff, a roundtable organised by the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) has concluded.

The roundtable of pharmacists and pharmacy technicians from across Scotland, held on 3 October 2022, aimed to better enable people with disabilities to work in pharmacy. It was chaired by Jeremy Balfour MSP, convener of the Scottish Parliament’s Cross-Party Group on Disability, and attended by Alison Strath, chief pharmaceutical officer for Scotland.

Among the 11 outcomes of the meeting, published by the RPS on 29 November 2022, were agreements that pharmacy organisations should review their policies to ensure they do not unfairly discriminate against people with a disability and that “education about disabilities should be embedded in training for all pharmacy professionals”.

The roundtable also agreed that, “to have a better understanding of the workforce and their needs, organisations should commit to collecting disability data on their workforce”.

Following an independent review in 2017, the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) worked with large employers of more than 250 employees to develop a voluntary disability reporting framework.

However, a UK-wide consultation, which closed in April 2022, explored the possibility of mandatory reporting for large organisations.

In its response to the consultation, the RPS said that collection of workforce disability data should be mandatory, but added that there is a risk the data “may be collected but then nothing is done with [it]”.

“This will have a negative impact on individuals who have taken the time to complete the report, expecting an improvement in their working environment and culture, and then feel like nothing changes,” it said.

The Society has now been invited to the Scottish Parliament on 1 February 2023 to present the roundtable outputs, as well as details of the Society’s wider campaign on disability, to the Cross-Party Group for Disability.

In a statement published alongside the outcomes, the RPS said that “everyone who attended this round table has committed to implementing these actions in their own workplaces”.

“Given the significant number of stakeholders present, representing different pharmacy teams and sectors, RPS is confident that these outcomes will have broad reach and lasting impact,” the statement added.

Clare Morrison, RPS director for Scotland, said the discussion “showed just how many opportunities there are to make improvements”.

“Number one of these is a culture change to better support people with disabilities and this is something every person in every pharmacy team can get behind: it really felt like we started that commitment at the round table and I hope now that spreads throughout pharmacy in Scotland.”

The roundtable was part of the Society’s wider campaign on disability, which launched in January 2022 and was developed with RPS Ability, a team of volunteers from the Society’s Action in Belonging, Culture and Diversity group.

Last updated
The Pharmaceutical Journal, PJ, December 2022, Vol 309, No 7968;309(7968)::DOI:10.1211/PJ.2022.1.168541

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