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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.

What did the APPG recommend after the session?
  1. Steps should be taken to encourage the use of shared patient records, to accommodate greater joint working within and between primary and secondary care.
  2. A full evaluation of NHS England sites piloting pharmacists in GP surgeries should be conducted, to determine their impact on patient services.
  3. More community pharmacists should be encouraged to become prescribers.
  4. The government should investigate the feasibility of providing GP services in community pharmacy premises, [in] particular those belonging to large multiples, in order to take advantage of shared facilities.

The full report can be viewed here.

Result

Do you agree with the APPG’s suggestion of placing GPs in community pharmacies?
Yes. It would be cost effective and convenient for patients.
33%
No. It could confuse patients and favour the large multiples.
67%
Total votes: 126

What do you make of the APPG's suggestions?

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