Pharmacy and pharmacy technician leaders from across Scotland have committed to a series of outcomes to support people with disabilities, including considering how flexible working could be offered routinely to all employees.

The RPS today revealed the measures agreed at a roundtable event at the Scottish Parliament last month, where pharmacy team members with lived experience of disability shared their experience with representatives from across the sector.

The meeting was chaired by Jeremy Balfour MSP, Convener of the Scottish Parliament’s Cross-Party Group on Disability, and attended by Chief Pharmaceutical Officer for Scotland, Alison Strath, representatives from pharmacy employers, Community Pharmacy Scotland, NHS Education for Scotland, the GPhC in Scotland, the Pharmacists’ Defence Association and NHS Scotland.

The roundtable agreed that organisations and employers should commit to a culture change to better support people with disabilities, including encouraging people to speak up about their disabilities and the support they need at work.

It also said that organisations and employers should consider how to offer flexible working routinely to all employees, and should review their policies, such as absence policies, to ensure they’re not unfairly discriminating against people with a disability or a long term condition.

Organisations and employers should also commit to collecting disability data on their workforce in order to have a better understanding of the workforce and their needs, they agreed.

Attendees also agreed that:

  • Education about disabilities should be embedded in training for all pharmacy professionals.
  • Organisations and employers should use resources on disability such as those from RPS (including tackling microaggressions and breaking down barriers) and GPhC to better support people with disabilities.
  • Pharmacy needs to engage with the public to address negative public perceptions of being served by a pharmacist with a disability.
  • Organisations and employers should encourage individuals to have open conversations to identify their strengths and to make best use of their skills.
  • Organisations and employers should consider what options are needed to create better workplaces for everyone to be enabled to do their job.
  • Organisations and employers should be aware of the guidance on making adjustments in the workplace from the Department of Work & Pensions, and also the funding available to make adjustments through an Access to Work

The RPS said that everyone who attended the roundtable has committed to implementing these actions in their own workplaces.

‘Given the significant number of stakeholders present, representing different pharmacy teams and sectors, RPS is confident that these outcomes will have broad reach and lasting impact,’ it added.

Speaking to The Pharmacist at the time of the roundtable, Pharmacist Farzana Haq, who has a hidden disability and spoke at the event, said that she had experienced challenges across both community pharmacy and practice-based roles.

She said that adjustments, such as adding in a perch stool in a community pharmacy or offering flexible working hours and equitable part-time roles within practices and PCNs, would enable more people with disabilities to thrive in the workplace.

Speaking about the publication of the outcomes, Clare Morrison, director for Scotland at RPS, said that the discussion had shown ‘just how many opportunities there are to make improvements.’

‘Number one of these is a culture change to better support people with disabilities and this is something every person in every pharmacy team can get behind: it really felt like we started that commitment at the round table and I hope now that spreads throughout pharmacy in Scotland,’ she said.

This came after a RPS survey identified that living with a disability is considered by RPS Members to be the biggest barrier to working in pharmacy.