latest health care news

17.11.15

Cash to help pharmacists ease GP workload doubles in 400-job drive

NHS England has expanded its clinical pharmacist recruitment drive in GP surgeries, announced in July, to more than 400 posts, matched with a two-fold increase in programme funding.

Across almost 700 GP practices, 403 clinical pharmacists (up from 300) will be hired to ease the workload of doctors and provide direct patient care.

Recruitment for the three-year pilot initiative will begin immediately, backed by a £16m rise in overall funding due to an “overwhelmingly positive response from GP surgeries”. The extra funding was able to more than double the number of supported applications after panels received largely impressive responses.

On the extra investment, Sandra Gidley, chair of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society English Board, commented: “It’s a real vote of confidence in the pharmacy profession and a huge step towards the integration of pharmacists into primary care.”

Patients will have access to the extra support in their GP practices from spring 2016.

Simon Stevens, NHS England boss, said: “Joint working between pharmacists and GPs has the potential to have major benefits for both patients and clinical professionals. 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.”

The pharmacist experts can help with, amongst other things, managing long-term conditions, giving specific advice for those with multiple medications and opening up more access to clinical advice on treatments.

Pilots will build on the experiences of general practices that already have clinical pharmacists as part of their team – in some cases, even as partners.

The programme is supported by Health Education England, the BMA and the Royal College of GPs, which originally put forward these ideas in March.

Health Education England, for example, is supporting the pilot by delivering a training programme through its national delivery partner, Centre for Postgraduate Pharmacy Education.

And Dr Maureen Baker, chair of the Royal College of GPs, said the opportunity for more pharmacists to work in GP surgeries as part of the practice team is essential to help with the severs shortage of GPs across the UK.

But she added: “There is a long way to go to solve the workforce crisis in general practice, and creating new roles, such as practice-based pharmacists, is just one of the steps in our 10-point plan to build the general practice workforce, launched earlier this year.

“We now need to do everything we can to ‘recruit, retain, return’ as many GPs as possible so that our profession can continue to deliver the care our patients need and deserve.”

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