04.12.19

Community pharmacists to expand role in patient care

613 Greater Manchester community pharmacies have signed up to a new national scheme, which will see patient consultations booked via NHS 111 for the very first time.

The scheme launched on the 29th of October is part of major plans to boost the role of pharmacists in patient care, outlined in the national NHS Long Term Plan.

People who call the free NHS 111 phone service can now be offered same day consultation with their local community pharmacist, if they need an urgent supply of a prescription medicine or advice on minor illnesses.

The aim of the scheme is to leverage pressure on GP practices and A&E departments, which come under increasing strain when the winter hits.

Early stages of the initiative in other parts of the country found that an estimated 6% of all GP consultations could be handled by a community pharmacist, freeing up around 20 million GP appointments each year nationally.

In Greater Manchester, community pharmacists are working across all GP practices, alongside other health professionals, as part of local Primary Care Networks.

This means faster expert prescription advice, comprehensive medication reviews, improvements to medicine safety, and extra support for care homes, allowing GPs to focus on the sickest patients with complex, ongoing or serious conditions.

Fin McCaul, pharmacist in Prestwich and Long-Term Conditions Lead for NHS Bury Clinical Commissioning Group said: “It’s still early days but we’re already starting to see a difference as a result of this scheme. Whether a patient is running short of medication or is worried about their child’s cough, seeing a pharmacist means one less GP appointment or one less visit to A&E.

Sarah Price, Executive Lead for Population Health and Commissioning at Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Partnership: “Our health services are facing unprecedented challenges and that means finding new ways to deliver the standard of care that patients expect, whilst ensuring that services are sustainable and fit for the future. Doing things the way we’ve always done, is no longer an option. Greater Manchester pharmacists are rising to the challenge and becoming more closely involved in patient care, often in close partnership with other health and care professionals." 

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