Demand for pharmaceutical care is set to increase and playing to the strengths of the pharmacy team is crucial to achieving excellence, Jeane Freeman, Scottish Cabinet Secretary for Health and Sport, said at the opening of the World Congress of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences in Glasgow, UK, on Sunday.
However, the pharmacy team must have the resilience to be able to respond and adapt to the pressures that face our modern health and social care system, Ms Freeman said. She explained that the Scottish Government has identified three “key enablers” as priorities for action: developing the pharmacy workforce, improving access to and use of digital information and technologies, and planning for a sustainable, flexible and resilient approach to the delivery of NHS pharmaceutical care across Scotland.
The health secretary said that the Scottish Government wants to strengthen its pharmacy workforce planning, and this includes ensuring pharmacists and pharmacy technicians have the necessary clinical, decision-making and digital skills that are needed to care for people effectively. “For example, automated technologies being deployed in the dispensing process can release time and capacity for improving the services we provide,” she said.
Ms Freeman also highlighted that, across Scotland, nearly 20% of people live in remote and rural communities, which are growing at a faster rate than the rest of the country, and have higher numbers of older people. “We need to understand and work to overcome the barriers that exist to attracting, educating and training pharmacy and pharmacy technicians to work in remote and rural communities so that we can deliver improved access to pharmaceutical care, better outcomes for people and help sustain a service that is vital to those communities, as it is to those who live in urban Scotland,” she said.
A number of innovative ways of delivering health care in rural areas are being developed and tested, including solutions such as technology-enabled care and urban and rural hospital networks, she added.
“The clinical leadership of our pharmacists and pharmacy technicians remains absolutely critical if we are to realise the ambitions we have for health care in Scotland, not only now, but in the years ahead,” she said.