The Scottish government has committed to creating 120 additional pharmacy preregistration training places over the next three years, as part of its health and social care workforce plan.
The plan, which was published on 16 December 2019 and developed by the government together with the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities, said the expanded number of preregistration training places will allow more pharmacists to work in primary care settings.
The plan, ‘An integrated health and social care workforce plan for Scotland’, promises that all GP practices will have access to pharmacist support by the end of 2021.
To achieve this, the document says the government will “create up to 120 more pharmacist [roles] in primary care settings, increasing pharmacy preregistration training places by 40 each year over the next three years”.
GP practices were previously promised access to pharmacist and pharmacy technician support by April 2021, as part of a new GP contract published by the Scottish government in November 2017.
However, Community Pharmacy Scotland raised concerns at the time that there were not enough pharmacists and technicians to run the service.
The workforce plan says that in 2018/2019, the Scottish government had already increased the number of funded preregistration places from 170 to 200, with the new places representing a further increase.
The Scottish government’s commitment comes after NHS England announced in January 2019 that each of the 1,259 primary care networks would be expected to employ six pharmacists by 2024, with leaders in the pharmacy sector expressing concern over whether there are enough pharmacists in the profession to meet this demand.
Jeane Freeman, Scottish cabinet secretary for health and sport, said that the plan — which she claimed was the first integrated health and social care workforce plan in the UK — would be “invaluable in helping us to anticipate and respond to the changing and growing demand faced by our health and social care services”.
Jonathan Burton, chair of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society’s Scottish Pharmacy Board, said that the Society “very much welcomes the Scottish government’s commitment to increasing the number of preregistration training places”.
Burton added that it is “vitally important that the overall workforce plan for pharmacy, which now includes increasing the number of pharmacists in primary care, also actively supports hospital and community pharmacy services”.
“We would like to see a national campaign to encourage young people into the pharmacy profession, via our MPharm courses, in order to help achieve these commitments,” he added.