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RCGP: GPs will not have control over surgery pharmacists

Royal College of General Practitioners honorary secretary Nigel Mathers has responded to the sector's concerns about its plans to employ more pharmacists in GP practices


Plans to employ more surgery-based pharmacists will not give GPs undue power, the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) has promised.

RCGP honorary secretary Nigel Mathers said that pharmacists would remain "autonomous" under plans to employ more pharmacists in GP practices, unveiled by the RCGP and Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) last week. 

The organisations said the plans could slash waiting times and improve patient care, but readers posting on the C+D website last week warned they could be “fatal” for the profession and put GPs “in full control” of primary healthcare.

Mr Mathers told C+D on Monday (March 23) that pharmacists working in GP surgeries would be employed by practices in the same way as salaried GPs, and insisted the plans were a “joint endeavour” between the two professions.

“Pharmacists working within a primary healthcare team will have autonomous clinical responsibility for patients, access to their own membership body and their own indemnity arrangements,” he said.

'Zero impact' on funding

In response to concerns from C+D readers about how the inititiative would be funded, RPS English Pharmacy Board chair David Branford promised it would have “zero impact” on funding for community pharmacy.

The plans would be paid for by NHS England and Health Education England as part of a new funding model for general practice, he said.

Readers also asked why the services that practice pharmacists are set to provide – including reviewing the medicines of “high-risk” patients, running medicine interventions clinics and educating prescribers – could not be delivered in community pharmacies.

Mr Branford stressed that the initiative would not undermine the role of community pharmacists. Practice pharmacies would be an "enormous help" and would promote collaboration with community pharmacies by referring patients for MURs, for example. The scheme was a “win-win proposal for pharmacists, GPs and patients”, he said.

The RPS’s example job description for the new role attracted criticism for stating that pharmacists would need to be be members of the organisation's professional recognition scheme - the RPS faculty - or “working towards” membership.

Pharmacist Cathy Cooke tweeted that membership of the professional recognition programme did not show “unique competence”, while a pharmacist posting on Twitter as M S Howard said the requirement excluded potentially “excellent candidates”.

But Mr Branford said faculty membership was a “very useful way of demonstrating commitment to professional development” and the RCGP had found the job description “helpful and supportive”.

Do you have any questions about the RCGP's plans?


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