NHS England has launched a new £15m scheme to fund, recruit and employ clinical pharmacists in GP surgeries.
Launched by NHS England Chief Executive Simon Stevens, the-three year initiative will go live this year and is designed to give patients the additional support of an expert pharmacist in their GP surgery.
Examples of the benefits patients are expected to enjoy include extra help to manage long-term conditions, specific advice for those with multiple medications and better access to health checks.
The pharmacists will be employed directly by the general practice to help patients, while also easing GP workload and improving communication between general practice, hospitals and community pharmacists.
The scheme will focus on areas of greatest need where GPs are under greatest pressure, and aims to build on the success of GP practices already employing pharmacists in patient-facing roles.
The announcement is an important part of the New Deal for General Practice outlined by the NHS Five Year Forward View, and is the result of collaborative work with Royal College of General Practice, the BMA’s General Practice Committee, the Royal Pharmaceutical Society and Health Education England.
“This has the potential to be a win-win-win for patients, their GPs and for pharmacists,” says Simon Stevens, NHS England Chief Executive.
“Tapping into the skills of clinical pharmacists should help expand care and relieve some of the pressure that GPs are clearly under.
“This isn’t a silver bullet but it is a practical and constructive contribution to the wider challenge.”
Dr David Branford, former Chair of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society English Board said this is a fantastic initiative by NHS England.
“Pharmacists working as part of the team in general practice can make a huge difference to both patients and clinical colleagues,” he says.
“Pharmacists can consult with and treat patients directly, relieving GPs of casework and enabling them to focus their skills where they are most needed, for example on diagnosing and treating patients with complex conditions.
“As part of the multidisciplinary team, pharmacists will also be able to advise other professionals about medicines, resolve problems with prescriptions and reduce prescribing errors.
“It’s a win-win situation for everyone concerned. I am delighted that NHS England are investing in this pilot which will make best use of the NHS workforce.
“Working with the Royal College of General Practitioners we will be doing everything we can to support the profession and make sure this pilot is successful.
“In time I hope pharmacists will be working in every GP practice in the country.”