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UCL questions 'stability' of practice pharmacist scheme

Employing pharmacists in GP practices is "no substitute" for enhancing pharmacists' role in the community, according to a University College London report

A University College London (UCL) report has cast doubts over the "long-term economic stability" of an NHS England scheme to recruit pharmacists into GP surgeries.

The national scheme – which will see the commissioning body partially fund 403 pharmacists to work in nearly 700 GP practices over three years – could incur "significant costs" by trying to create a "team-based model" of primary care, according to a UCL school of pharmacy report published yesterday (January 13).

Although the pilot is a "valuable step" and may allow GPs to spend longer with some patients, it is not a "substitute" for a "clear vision for the future" of community pharmacists, the report's authors said.

"Without well-planned, pro-active interventions, pharmacy skills will be under-used and the established community pharmacy network lost," the authors warned.

Centralised dispensing

The university also advised the sector against a move towards centralised dispensing, and instead proposed extending pharmacists' prescribing role and improving patient records access.

"This would combine convenient local medicines supply with more accessible forms of pharmacy care in areas ranging from managing blood pressure to providing better COPD [care]," the authors said.

They also backed the National Association for Primary Care's (NAPC) "primary care home" programme, which launched last October. The scheme involves a "community" of healthcare professionals – including pharmacists – providing care to groups of up to 50,000 patients. Fifteen sites across England were selected to trial the model in December.

Watch the report's author Professor David Colin-Thomé talk to C+D about the need for closer collaboration between GPs and pharmacists

 

 


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