Humza Yousaf, Scottish cabinet secretary for health and social care, has said he is committed to achieving protected learning time for healthcare professionals, while speaking on a panel alongside Clare Morrison, director for Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) Scotland.
Yousaf made the commitment at the Scottish National Party conference in Aberdeen on 8 October 2022, during a fringe event discussing how to tackle the workforce crisis in healthcare.
During the panel discussion, Morrison highlighted how pharmacists’ roles have expanded in recent times, particularly with NHS Scotland’s Pharmacy First and Pharmacy First Plus services, and the pharmacotherapy service.
However, she also warned that these services had been introduced without proper pharmacy workforce planning.
“We know there are shortages of pharmacists across every sector of pharmacy — hospital, community and general practice. We need Scottish government to undertake workforce planning for pharmacy in the way it does for doctors and nurses,” she said.
Highlighting the need to both maintain and grow the pharmacy workforce, Morrison gave examples of how to improve workforce wellbeing, including mandating rest breaks and protected learning time.
In a statement published by RPS Scotland on 10 October 2022, Morrison said: “I was absolutely delighted that the cabinet secretary said he is committed to achieving protected learning time and recognises its importance.”
A spokesperson for the Scottish government said the cabinet secretary was “sympathetic to the needs of healthcare professionals, including the desire to see protected learning time.
“We currently provide community pharmacy contractors with a monthly payment to support quality and improvement initiatives, which can form part of the pharmacists annual continuing professional development,” they added.
“We will continue to work with the sector on this issue.”
In its statement, RPS Scotland said it will now write to the cabinet secretary to request a meeting on how the commitment can be achieved, as well as to share findings of its workforce wellbeing survey.