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'How do we juggle community and demand for GP pharmacists?'

It will be a “juggling act” to place Scottish pharmacists in GP practices while keeping the community pharmacy network "sustainable”, the country's chief pharmaceutical officer has said.

In 2015, the Scottish government earmarked £16.2 million over three years to employ 140 pharmacists to work within GP practices. Last year, it committed to giving all GP practices access to a pharmacist “by the end of this parliament”.

Speaking exclusively to C+D at the Pharmaceutical Group of the European Union's annual conference in London last week (June 13), Rose Marie Parr said one of the challenges facing the country is working out how to "keep sustainability" of pharmacists "in the community" while expanding their use in GP practices.

"We need to be really mindful that there are only so many pharmacists and technicians, and there is still work to be done around dispensing and supply of medicines," she said.

"We need to think of ways around skill mix, motivation and robotics that can help pharmacy redesign its services," Ms Parr added. "If that comes together, it will free the workforce to do more clinical things."

Use "big data" to improve safety

Scotland also needs to get better at using data to "reduce the burden of harm" associated with medicines, Ms Parr added.

Ensuring the safer use of medicines is “really difficult” and Scotland needs to “work with medical practitioners, educationalists and people who have access to big data”, to promote this across the country.

Ms Parr also said she wants to look at how to modernise pharmacy over the next five to 10 years. “How do we get the evidence to prove that pharmacy works for patients?” she asked.

Ms Parr added that the government is still looking at extending its national minor ailments scheme to cover all patients, and how to take forward its five-year integrated pharmacy degree, due to come into effect in 2020.

Ms Parr was ranked number 10 by readers in C+D's rundown of the 50 most influential individuals in community pharmacy last month. View the full results here.

What do you think the effects of placing more pharmacists in GP practices will be?

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