Parliamentary group calls for Boots branches to host GPs
The government should look into offering GP services in community pharmacies, particularly those owned by “large multiples”, the all-party pharmacy group (APPG) has suggested.
According to the APPG’s report from its first evidence session on pharmacists in GP surgeries, vice chair Oliver Colvile MP “suggested that community pharmacies, particularly large multiples like Boots, could host GPs in their buildings”.
Mr Colvile argued this would be “cost-effective [and] provide more convenience to the patient”, the APPG said in its notes from the meeting published yesterday (February 1).
Devon local pharmaceutical committee chair David Bearman, who attended the session, “indicated that this idea was being considered in the south west, but was at a very early stage”, the APPG noted.
Mr Colvile's suggestion was included ;as one of the APPG's four recommendations (see below).
How have GP pharmacists impacted services?
The APPG noted that, while there has been no evaluation of the impact of NHS England’s practice pharmacist pilot sites, there is “significant anecdotal evidence about life-changing interventions being made”.
Mr Bearman “said community pharmacies located in clinical pharmacies in GP surgeries are particularly well placed to support patients who suffer from long-term conditions”, according to the APPG's notes.
Peter Magirr, chair of South Yorkshire and Bassetlaw's local professional network for pharmacy, “said the [pilot sites] have added significant, additional capability in GP practices – allowing surgeries to provide more services and work more efficiently”, the APPG said.
What are the challenges to integration?
Mr Magirr “said a great deal of negotiation and organisation is required between the clinical commission group, GPs and pharmacists to establish a rota that ensures practices [in Sheffield] are supported by community pharmacists”, the APPG said.
The group added: “Mr Magirr explained there are indemnity and liability issues related to working across organisations, which need to be addressed, as they are a leading factor in the prevention of further integration.”
“All the witnesses agreed that preconceptions among GPs in regards to the role and capabilities of clinical pharmacists provided a barrier to integration,” the APPG stressed.
“However, they were all optimistic that once an understanding is established, this can quickly lead to a division in roles between diagnostics and medicine optimisation.”
Shortages of staff and money
Mr Bearman said that as the number of pilot sites in the south west increased, “shortages in staffing [have] become apparent”, the APPG noted. “He said that nationally there are enough pharmacists, but regionally this can prove a challenge.”
Mr Magirr highlighted “that securing funding for the initial pilots” was a “challenge”. “However, once the scheme has built momentum, more GPs express[ed] interest in paying into the scheme,” the APPG said.