Poll: Pharmacists in GP surgeries

doctor pharmacist collaboration consultation pharmacists in general practice GP

The concept of integrating pharmacists into GP practices continues to move forward – but what do pharmacists think of the idea?

Evidence is emerging which shows value in clinical pharmacists working in general practice – such as a NHS England-funded pilot which showed last month that pharmacists made a “unique and valuable contribution to the primary care skill mix”.

It’s expected that by 2020/21, more than 2000 clinical pharmacists will be working in English general practices.

In Australia, the 2018-19 Federal Budget made a provision for a new Workforce Incentive Program to support general practices to engage allied health professionals including non-dispensing pharmacists, a move welcomed by the PSA.

Earlier this year in Victoria, a new PSA program was rolled out in April, with non-dispensing pharmacists integrated into four general practices in Melbourne.

At the time, PSA national president Shane Jackson called the program a “timely intervention that can expand expertise in dealing with complicated conditions and deliver improved patient outcomes”.

But there are concerns from other quarters. Recently Anthony Tassone, Pharmacy Guild Victoria branch president, wrote a piece exploring some issues around the idea, including that there might be an underlying agenda.

“The legacy of the AMA’s hostility towards pharmacy makes the joint advocacy of the AMA and the PSA for government funding to support employing non-dispensing pharmacists under the recently announced $86 million rural health workforce strategy very interesting,” he wrote.

And David Heffernan, President of the Pharmacy Guild’s NSW branch, has said that he is “vehemently opposed to pharmacists in doctors’ surgeries, that funding announcement [for a new Workforce Incentive Program to include non-dispensing pharmacists in the latest Federal Budget] was basically a kick in the teeth.

“You do not have autonomy. Any pharmacist that thinks any of that GP funding is going to the pharmacist is really kidding themselves,” he said earlier this year.

We’d like to know what you think: do moves towards integrating pharmacists into GP surgeries promote multidisciplinary care, or weaken the position of pharmacists?

Pharmacists in GP surgeries:

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  1. patrick Mahony

    Patients visit their community pharmacy a minimum of six times more frequently than their GP. The concept is the wrong point of contact. The patient is the focus NOT the GP. Working GP hours is more socially appealing than the ten hour days of most pharmacists.
    Those pharmacist hours and those patient contacts are much more valuable to the patient. Pharmacists should be paid and pharmacies appropriately resourced to provide this service “at the coal face”.

    • Debbie Rigby

      As a pharmacist who has worked in community pharmacies and GP surgeries, I can say from experience that the roles are different. Patient perceptions and expectations differ. Access to the patients’ clinical notes is a big plus for practice pharmacists. And easy discussions with GPs – often in the corridor or tea room – occur. GPs refer patients to me, based on their confidence of my clinical knowledge and specific expertise. GPs discuss options for new medicines at the point of prescribing.

      I don’t think it is reasonable to compare the “value” to the patient. Both roles play an important part in quality use of medicines and helping patients to get the best out of their medicines.

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