Working conditions better in GP surgeries?

pharmacist with patient explaining medicines

The pharmacists’ union has thrown its weight behind pharmacists working in GP surgeries

Following the 2018 International Pharmaceutical Federation conference in Glasgow, Scotland, PPA cited a presentation by Matthew Boyd, Associate Professor in Patient Safety and Pharmacy Practice, University of Nottingham.

A/Prof Boyd was the research lead in a recent pilot study which found pharmacists in GP surgeries were highly regarded by the GPs and helped patients better understand their medicines.

He told delegates that “89% of pharmacists interviewed said they were able to work autonomously, and the same proportion reported feeling accepted by other members of the multidisciplinary team”.

“PPA has long advocated for pharmacists to be integrated into the wider health system,” says the union.

It says it “believes that there is no reason why there can’t be a mixed ‘business’ approach to professional services”.

“By placing pharmacists into GPs, it will broaden practice settings and employment opportunities for pharmacists, both inside and outside the four walls of pharmacy.”

PPA national president Dr Geoff March said that following the ongoing work value case examining pay for pharmacists employed in community pharmacy, the PPA will have a better opportunity to examine role classifications for pharmacists employed in a number of areas.

“One idea we have is making classifications align with the competency standards in pharmacy – that way it’s more skills-based rather than a career path of pharmacist – experienced pharmacist – pharmacist manager,” he said.

“This [GP surgery pharmacists] is a greenfields area at the moment, though not totally so – the award would still cover that to some extent. We’ll be working with PSA around that issue and hope to have further discussions as it becomes more substantial.”

He said that the issue is not just pay, however – working conditions for pharmacists in GP surgeries would “without doubt” be better than those employed in community pharmacies.

“A major issue is workloads in community pharmacy, and we’re really concerned about that.

“Pharmacists can take better care of patients when working in these areas, and out of that you get respect and trust. If we can focus on patient care, then other people understand the value of that.”

GP surgeries are not the only place where pharmacists are sorely needed, he said.

“There’s a crying need for pharmacists to be involved in the care of patients in the aged care sector,” Dr March said. “I think some further education around working with older people and understanding medicines in older people and so forth could be an area, dare I say speciality, certain a focus for career pharmacists.”

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