Refugee pharmacists in Wales could be offered opportunity to return to practice
A new strategy to deal with a shortage of pharmacists in Wales could offer those with refugee status a chance to return to practice.
The option has been set out in Health Education and Improvement Wales’ (HEIW) Strategic Pharmacy Workforce Plan which commits to “exploring the feasibility and priority” of creating a registration pathway for displaced pharmacy professionals with refugee status.
The report includes data that shows the number of short-notice temporary closures of pharmacies in Wales topped 2,000 in 2022/2023 for the first time. Overall, there were 2,106 closures in 2022/2023, compared with 1,782 in 2022/2021.
HEIW says it has committed to “exploring the feasibility and priority of refreshing ‘return to practice’ packages, developing pharmacy apprenticeships, undertaking international recruitment programmes, and creating a pathway to registration in Wales for displaced pharmacists and pharmacy technicians with refugee status”.
“We have reached a position in the last two years where it has not been possible to sustain access to the volume and quality of pharmacy services for our population that we would wish to,” HEIW said in the plan.
“In Wales, there are examples of pharmacy services having been reduced in both hospital and community. The trend of community pharmacy short notice temporary closures persists.”
In June NHS England published its ‘Long term workforce plan’, which committed to increasing the number of pharmacy training places by 50% in eight years.
MPs had previously called for a workforce plan specifically for pharmacy in England. However, this call was rejected by the UK Government in April 2023.
Alex Howells, chief executive of HEIW, said the strategic workforce plan “will be a vehicle for driving radical change and comprehensive improvements in how we develop, value and support our pharmacy workforce, in recognition of the increasing clinical leadership role they play in caring for people using medicines, in a variety of settings”.
“The plan is an opportunity to equip pharmacy professionals with the skills and competence to take up their professional leadership role in relation to medicines use across the general health and social care workforce,” she added.
Elen Jones, director for Wales at the Royal Pharmaceutical Society, told The Pharmaceutical Journal: “Increasing the workforce numbers of pharmacy professionals in Wales is of course a key consideration within the HEIW workforce plan.
“One option included in their actions is to consider support for qualified professional registrants who come into Wales as refugees to develop their skills and knowledge to work safely and effectively in Wales.
“RPS Wales is committed to working with HEIW and colleagues in other organisations to address present and future workforce pressures and will be inputting on any scoping work that follows.”
Support our Nation today
For the price of a cup of coffee a month you can help us create an independent, not-for-profit, national news service for the people of Wales, by the people of Wales.