Training and Resources for Pharmacists: A collaborative Scottish project

Improving training and resources for pharmacists in caring for people with migraine is the goal of an exciting new collaborative project in Scotland. Rob Music, CEO of the Migraine Trust, and Dr David Watson have been working together and explain how this project works.

Improving access to good advice

When it comes to providing optimum migraine care, we are seeing a lack of capacity in primary care
combined with an increase in referrals to secondary care and long waiting lists for specialist
appointments. This is making it incredibly challenging for people with migraine to get the right care
they need at the right time. As a result, it is vital we look at all opportunities to improve this

Strengthening the role of pharmacists

One of The Migraine Trust’s key recommendations in its 2023 'Heading in the Wrong Direction' report
was the need to strengthen the role of pharmacy in supporting people with migraine. We believe
that by equipping pharmacists with comprehensive knowledge about migraine, including symptoms,
treatments, and the risks of medication overuse headache (MOH), we could see enhanced patient
outcomes and overall well-being. This will in turn reduce the burden on primary and secondary
health care, including A & E attendance and open up new pathways for people with migraine.

Additionally, community pharmacy is one of the most accessible NHS services. In England, for
example 90% of the population live within 20 minutes walking distance of a pharmacy and their
services can be accessed without the need for an appointment.

Our two year pilot project

The Migraine Trust approached Dr David PB Watson, GP with extended role in headache in NHS Grampian, to discuss collaborative work.  An application for funding from Scottish Government was successful and the partnership of The Migraine Trust and NHS Grampian has just completed the first year of a two-year pilot project looking to upskill pharmacists on migraine care while increasing public understanding that their local pharmacist has an expert knowledge in migraine.

A collaborative approach : Delivering training, resources and raising awareness

The project has been a true partnership between The Migraine Trust and NHS Grampian. The NHS Grampian team has included the Pharmacy Medicines Directorate, the realistic medicine team, Dr Callum Duncan consultant neurologist and Dr David Watson both of whom are BASH members. This collaborative approach has led to the development and delivery of training and resources for pharmacists on how to help people with migraine manage their symptoms and treatments more effectively.

Our results so far - very positive

The first year results have been very positive and as a result we’ve received further funding to widen
the work with at least three other Health Boards in year two, as well as embed the learnings from
year one within NHS Grampian.
Through a collaborative approach which has championed stewardship and sustainability the project
developed a learning site for pharmacists that includes an eLearning module, recordings of live training sessions and links to resources 
 provided training for 73 pharmacy staff in live sessions with over 200 staff engaging with
the eLearning module 
 redeveloped the NHS Grampian headache and migraine webpages
 supported the development of a Grampian wide public awareness campaign 
 provided resource materials for all 132 pharmacies and 74 GP Practices, and created a bank
of resources to be held centrally 
 facilitated a public webinar to discuss migraine management in Grampian

Confidence and understanding is improving

When asked how confident they felt when dealing with people with migraine pharmacy staff
reported a large increase after being trained. Ahead of the training, 40% agreed they felt confident
with none strongly agreeing, but after the training 100% said they strongly agreed or agreed they
felt confident.

And for the general public just 14% said they had accessed support from a pharmacist but after
understanding more about their role, 77% said they would now consider speaking with a
pharmacist. This number increased to 91% from those that attended our patient webinar in January
this year.

The main enabler to accessing pharmacy support identified was knowing the pharmacist is
expert in migraine management.  

Can we roll this out through the UK?

This project is already highlighting that providing comprehensive education and training can
empower pharmacists with the knowledge and skills needed to support people living with migraine
in their community more effectively, which is crucial for improving patient outcomes and quality of
We are pleased with the results of year one of this project and looking forward to seeing the
outcomes as the project expands wider in Scotland in year two. Encouragingly, we have been
approached by experts in other UK countries, wanting to understand more about this work in order
to explore ways they can develop pharmacy training within their own community. This is both
exciting and positive and we very much believe the results of this project can help provide a model for better practice across the UK.

Rob Music, CEO Migraine Trust and Dr David Watson, GPwER in Headache, NHS Grampian

To find out more about what BASH can offer GPs, click here

To see the Scottish National Headache Pathway, click here

For more useful links, click here

A Practical approach to Headache
GPs with Extended Role in Headache met at Kings
Training and Resources for Pharmacists: A collaborative Scottish project