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Pharmacy services and funding should be ‘made available’ to GPs, says BMA

The British Medical Association (BMA) has said that dispensing GPs should have access to “all funding and services” commissioned to pharmacies.  

The health and social care committee (HSCC) last week (October 18) published evidence submitted to its inquiry examining the future role of pharmacy services, launched by MPs in June.

In a statement submitted to the inquiry, the BMA said that “all funding and services commissioned from pharmacies should also be available to/from dispensing GP practices”.

It added that although “pharmacists are ideally placed to work with patients” and support their medication use, “dispensing [GP] practices are an essential element of community pharmacy services...and should never be forgotten in future care and medicines dispensing planning”.

And it called for funding such as that for community pharmacy hypertension services to be “made available to all dispensing practices” to “ensure equity of access for all patients”.

 

Pharmacies should “help ease pressure” on GPs

 

The doctors’ union stressed that “around 7% of all prescription items are dispensed by doctors” and that “these dispensing GP practices, which only exist in areas where pharmacies do not… form a vital service in rural areas”.

It said that “it is imperative that any funding and services commissioned from pharmacies” are also available to these dispensing practices “to avoid a postcode lottery effect”.

However, the BMA also stressed the pressures that GP practices are facing and the way that pharmacies can help alleviate them.

Responding to a question about “the future of pharmacy”, the BMA said that “general practice is under ever-growing pressure with falling numbers of GPs and an ever-increasing workload”.

And it added that “the government can do more to promote pharmacy as an alternative” to “help ease some of the pressure on general practice”.

This could include the Pharmacy First scheme for minor ailments, greater monitoring and review of long-term conditions such as hypertension or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and structured medication reviews for patients, it said.

 

Pharmacies excluded? 

 

Pharmacies are set to provide a new common ailments scheme targeting seven conditions as part of a £645 million investment into the sector over two years.

Last month, Community Pharmacy England (CPE) said that it "hopes to have concluded” funding negotiations by November.

And the comments come after HSCC chair Steve Brine proposed that primary care should be brought together “in a physical sense” with other providers at the Pharmacy Show in Birmingham earlier this month. 

Meanwhile, lead pharmacists at integrated care systems (ICSs) also warned of a ”deep-rooted culture” of excluding pharmacy at the conference.

They said that “a lot of” ICB meetings “titled ‘primary care’” take place in which attendees are “not actually talking about primary care [but] about general medical practice”.

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