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Sector underwhelmed by recruitment of 1,500 GP pharmacists

More than £112 million will be spent to give every practice access to a clinical pharmacist


Pharmacy organisations are underwhelmed by government plans to fund 1,500 practice pharmacists in GP surgeries.

Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) chief executive Sue Sharpe said today (April 22) that NHS England’s plans “do not go far enough” because they fail to take full advantage of community pharmacy.

Ms Sharpe stressed pharmacists working in GP practices must work as part of a team that “properly integrates” practices and community pharmacy teams.

"Hard to swallow"

Pharmacy Voice said the news of a significant investment into GPs will “feel hard to swallow”.

The lobbying group said NHS England’s increased investment “sits entirely with GPs” and “ignores and undermines” the crucial role played by community pharmacy team members.

It would be a mistake to try to resolve the "underutilisation" of professional expertise by placing a pharmacist in every GP practice when the pilot is yet to be evaluated, Pharmacy Voice added.

The RPS stressed that the “Pharmacy Integration Fund” should not be used to directly employ pharmacists in GP surgeries.

English Pharmacy Board chair Sandra Gidley said the creation of new jobs for pharmacists shows a “strong commitment” to the profession, but a detailed plan of how community pharmacy's role can be further enhanced is now needed. 


NHS England has pledged to fund a further 1,500 pharmacists to work alongside GPs.

As part of its new strategy document for GPs, published today (April 21), the commissioner said it will make a “new offer to every practice in the country to access a clinical pharmacist”.

NHS England will use an additional £112 million to quadruple the existing practice pharmacist pilot – currently recruiting more than 450 pharmacists – to assist every GP practice not involved in the current scheme.

“Appetite for the original pilot scheme was high,” it said. “We will need to learn more from the evaluation, but early indications suggest clinical pharmacists may have a role in streamlining practice prescription processes, medicines optimisation, minor ailments and long-term conditions management.”

“Pharmacists remain one of the most underutilised professional resources in the system and we must bring their considerable skills in to play more fully,” it said.

GP staff already direct patients to a wide range of alternative services, including pharmacy minor ailment schemes, it stressed.

Pharmacy Integration fund

The document also makes reference to a new pharmacy integration fund, worth £20 million in 2016-17 and rising by a further £20m each year.

This will “help further transform how pharmacists, their teams and community pharmacy work as part of wider NHS services in their area”. “Subject to a separate consultation, our proposals include better support for GP practices, for care homes and for urgent care for the use of the fund,” it added.

A total of £2.4 billion extra funding for GPs

The proposals will be funded as part of an injection of £2.4 billion into general practice by 2020-21 – a 14% increase in funding.

NHS England told C+D it will finance the plans with part of the £8bn in funding it will receive from the government by 2020.


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