Learning Disability Today
Supporting professionals working in learning disability and autism services

RPS calls for autism training to be extended to pharmacists

The Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) is calling for the Oliver McGowan Mandatory Training on Learning Disability and Autism to be extended to pharmacists too.

Currently, all healthcare and social care staff registered with the Care Quality Commission must be trained on learning disabilities and autism, but this does not include pharmacists.

The RPS says they “firmly believe” this training should be compulsory for pharmacists too, as it would give them the right skills and knowledge to provide “safe, compassionate and informed care” to autistic people and people with learning disabilities.

The Oliver McGowan training programme

The RPS made the call after responding to a government consultation on the Oliver McGowan Mandatory Training on Learning Disability and Autism, which is the government’s recommended training programme for healthcare staff.

The training programme is named after Oliver McGowan, who died in 2016 after having a severe reaction to antipsychotic medicine. Oliver was autistic, not mentally unwell, as his parents say the doctors misunderstood his normal autistic behaviours.

An independent learning disability mortality review found that Oliver’s death was avoidable, as his medical notes and family were ignored on multiple occasions.

If the staff had the correct training, they could have made some simple reasonable adjustments which could have saved his life.

This new training was therefore introduced last year to ensure that all healthcare professionals can give people with learning disabilities and autistic people the care they deserve.

A culture of inclusivity

Following the consultation, the RPS said they agree that the purpose of the training is clear, but more detail is needed around if and when more training would be required, and when refreshers courses should be offered.

They are also calling for it to be extended to all pharmacists, as they are the “first point of contact” for many patients, and they often manage their medications and prescriptions.

The RPS’s head of professional belonging and engagement Amandeep Doll said: “It is vital that pharmacists and everyone who cares for people with learning disabilities and autism in the health and social care system complete this training to uphold their rights and treat them with the utmost respect.

“The training will increase knowledge and promote a culture of inclusivity within the healthcare system.”

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