Pharmacist access to patient records is ‘more urgent than ever’, Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) director for Scotland Laura Wilson will tell new health secretary Neil Gray.

This comes as Mr Gray replaces former cabinet secretary for NHS recovery, health and social care Michael Matheson, who resigned yesterday following an investigation into data roaming charges he incurred whilst on holiday.

And Christina McKelvie MSP has been appointed minister for drugs and alcohol policy, the Scottish Government has confirmed.

Ms Wilson said the RPS would be seeking ‘an introductory meeting’ with Mr Gray ‘as soon as possible’ to discuss access to patient records, workforce planning and environmental sustainability, among other policy priorities.

She said that ‘ensuring pharmacists in all settings have read write access to patient records to support prescribing decisions’ was ‘top of our list of policy priorities’.

With governments in England and Wales ‘moving at pace on this issue’, she said that the RPS wanted ‘a similar commitment from Scottish Government to ensure pharmacists in Scotland have access to national shared electronic patient records’.

‘With all pharmacists coming out of undergraduate training as prescribers from 2026, this issue is more urgent than ever,’ Ms Wilson added.

From February 2024, community pharmacy IT systems in England will automatically send details of patient consultations to general practice clinical IT systems to facilitate the new national Pharmacy First service.

But in Scotland, where a similar national minor ailments service has been running since 2020, community pharmacists are struggling with a lack of access to patient data, Ms Wilson told The Pharmacist in an exclusive interview last year.

Also as part of the cabinet reshuffle this week, Christina McKelvie was appointed minister for drugs and alcohol policy, following the resignation of Elena Whitham due to ill-health.

In a statement issued today, the RPS thanked Ms Whitham for her work on the national naloxone service, which from October 2023 saw all community pharmacies holding an emergency supply of naloxone to reverse the effects of an opioid overdose.

Ms Wilson commented: ‘There is still so much to do, and we look forward to working with Ms McKelvie, and Scottish Government more widely, to implement additional policies to reduce harm and prevent drug deaths.’