Strong support for pharmacists in general practice


non-dispensing pharmacists: pharmacist sitting behind desk with pen and small pile of meds

Pharmacists in general practice have a lot to contribute, an international expert says.

Around 100 pharmacists, GPs, researchers and industry participants attended the PSA’s Pharmacists in General Practice Forum held in Sydney this week.

The forum was designed to inform and help equip pharmacists and GPs who are interested in furthering their practice through working in GP practices.

Keynote speaker pharmacist Ravi Sharma – a UK expert in the integration of pharmacists in general practice – described the UK experience and the associated benefits of this model, as well funding mechanisms and the political journey involved in seeing the practice pharmacist model acknowledged.

Sharma says pharmacists are able to contribute a “massive amount” in the GP setting.

“This is a setting where we are able to provide our skills and expertise, particularly around the use of medicines,” he says.

“As we go forward extending our role in the GP setting and start working collaboratively with other health professionals, particularly GPs and nurses, we are helping develop person-centred care.

“This holistic approach to patient care better promotes the best use of medicines and better management of patients’ long-term complex conditions.”

Sharma says it is important that existing community pharmacy services are not duplicated in the GP clinic.

“We have a unique opportunity in GP clinics to utilise the great services that community pharmacies offer on a day-to-day basis and to not only to support general practice but also to support the general public.

“It’s important that we integrate care a lot better into the primary care setting so that by working together with community pharmacy teams we are able to deliver the best possible form of care to our patients.”

Sharma says practice pharmacists also need to engage with community pharmacies to access additional support and services.

This is important as community pharmacies have programs which support the work of practice pharmacists.

Queensland-based practice pharmacist Dr Chris Freeman says he has been integrated into a GP setting for more than six years and is “proud to acknowledge that the interventions that I have made have benefited the consumer on many levels from those which have resulted in potentially saving a life to those where the consumer is able to have a better quality of life.

“I also provide practice level services which indirectly benefit the consumer such as providing drug information and education for GPs as well as conducting medicine use evaluations to improve the quality of prescribing,” Dr Freeman says.

“It is heartening to receive letters of appreciation from consumers expressing their gratitude of my input into their care.”

The forum also examined current evidence and detailed the proposed funding model prepared by Deloitte Access Economics and research by Deloitte showing that for every $1 invested in the program, $1.56 could be generated in savings to the health system

An interactive panel session allowed for discussion and debate of the key enablers that will be needed to take this forward.

Other speakers included:

  • Dr Christopher Freeman: Clinical Pharmacist at Camp Hill Healthcare
  • Dr Kean-Seng Lim: General Practitioner at Mt Druitt Medical Centre
  • Dr Brian Morton: AMACGP Chair
  • Ms Leanne Wells: CEO of the Consumer Health Forum
  • Dr Frank R Jones: President of the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners
  • Dr Neil Cottrell: Associate Professor: School of Pharmacy, University of Queensland
  • Dr Ian Williams: General Practitioner at Camp Hill Healthcare
  • Ms Laura Little: Clinical Pharmacist, Galambila Aboriginal Health Service
  • Ms Radhika Somasundaram: Clinical Pharmacist, Mt Druitt Medical Centre
  • Mr Warwick Hough: Director – General Practice, Legal Services and Workplace Policy, AMA
  • Mr Joe Demarte: National President: Pharmaceutical Society of Australia

Pharmacists seeking more information should go to the PSA website, to register their interest to be kept up to date on this area of practice, email: practicepharmacists@psa.org.au

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