NHS England plans to introduce new, surgery-based clinical pharmacists to over 700 more practices in order to help free up GP time.
In-surgery clinical pharmacists working as part of the general practice team provide expertise on day-to-day medicine issues and consult with patients directly on a range of issues. These include management of long-term conditions such as high blood pressure, providing advice for patients on multiple medications or offering better access to health checks.
The aim is to deliver enhanced access to clinical advice for patients and allow GPs time to focus on patients with more complex needs.
NHS England has pledged over £100m of investment to support an extra 1,500 clinical pharmacists to work in general practice by 2020/21. This is in addition to over 490 clinical pharmacists already working across approximately 650 GP practices as part of a pilot, launched in July 2015.
Dr Arvind Madan, GP and NHS England Director of Primary Care, said: “The clinical pharmacist programme is a clear win-win for patients and GPs. The pilots have shown GP workload to be eased while patients have the convenience of being seen by the right professional in a more timely way. The expansion of the programme today is great news for everyone.”
Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, Chair of the Royal College of GPs, also commented: “With family doctors currently facing unprecedented resource and workforce pressures, we are grateful for the support of pharmacists who are playing an increasingly vital role within some GP practice teams. They should not be seen as substitutes for GPs but they are highly-skilled and well-trusted healthcare professionals who carry out important tasks such as medication reviews and managing repeat prescriptions for patients with long-term conditions.
“This initiative is already helping to cut waiting times for patients in some areas, and free up GPs’ time for patients who really need our clinical expertise. Of course, if a patient specifically needs to see a GP, then they will still be able to request this.”