NHS England has more than doubled funding for its clinical pharmacists in general practice pilot, following an overwhelmingly positive response from GP surgeries.
The scheme’s funding will double from £15 million to £31 million, enabling more than seven million patients to access the pharmacists’ advice when they visit their GP.
Recruitment of pharmacists for the three year initiative, which was announced in July, is set to begin immediately, with pharmacists expected in GP surgeries from Spring 2016.
Regional assessment panels examined applications against national criteria including the potential for the pilot to improve access to general practice for patients, reduce workload for GPs and to support clinical pharmacists within a multidisciplinary team. Additional funding was found to more than double the number of supported applications after the panels were impressed by the outstanding quality of responses.
The pilots will be evaluated and will build on the experiences of general practices that already have clinical pharmacists as part of their team, in some cases as partners. The work is part of the GP Workforce 10 Point Plan, which aims to strengthen and support the GP workforce.
“Joint working between pharmacists and GPs has the potential to have major benefits for both patients and clinical professionals,” says Simon Stevens, NHS England Chief Executive.
“This pilot will be a win-win for GPs, pharmacists and patients.
“By testing these new ways of working across professional boundaries we are taking another step forward to relieving some of the pressure that GPs are clearly under and ensuring patients see the health professional that best suits their needs.”
According to Sandra Gidley, chair of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society English Board, the new investment of £16 million in the pilot is a vote of confidence in the pharmacy profession and a huge step towards the integration of pharmacists into primary care.
“NHS England’s support in evolving the role of the practice pharmacist will prove enormously valuable to both patients and other clinicians,” says Gidley.
“More patients will see at first-hand the difference a practice pharmacist can make to their health and more GPs will come to regard them as an essential part of the multidisciplinary team in their practice.”