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GPs: Create systems to divert patients to pharmacy

Chaand Nagpaul: CCGs need clear goals to manage demand for GPs

Commissioners must take a "structured approach" to referring GP patients to the correct healthcare profession, says BMA GP committee chair Chaand Nagpaul


Every clinical commissioning group (CCG) must set up systems to divert patients towards pharmacies, a senior GP representative has said.

Commissioners need to set up “a structured approach” so GP patients are seen by “the right professional”, said Chaand Nagpaul, chair of the British Medical Association’s GP committee.

Simply directing patients to pharmacists will not work “in its own right”, Dr Nagpaul stressed. “There needs to be a thought-through and systematic approach for a range of conditions so patients don’t need to contact the practice at all,” he told C+D at NHS England’s Health and Care conference in Manchester yesterday (September 3).

Each CCG needs a “clear commissioning goal” to manage the demand for GPs, Dr Nagpaul said. Pharmacists are one part of this solution, as are district nurses and health visitors, he said.

“If patients are coming to the surgery for minor ailments [and] they are eligible for free prescriptions, it would be much simpler to direct them to the pharmacist rather than a GP practice,” he added.

His view was echoed by NHS England head of GP development Robert Varnham, who said there are already “great case studies” of GP practices “reaching out to their pharmacy colleagues and working collaboratively”.

“When we wrote the Call to Action [document] last January, we wanted to describe a vision of wider primary care. This involves much greater collaboration between the various care givers in the community, including pharmacists, GPs and nurses,” Dr Varnham told C+D at the conference.

NHS England "vanguard sites" across the country – including Cambridgeshire, Devon and Wakefield – have told C+D how they want to use pharmacy to reduce pressure on primary and emergency care services.


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Kevin Western, Community pharmacist

Give that man a coconut.... as long as he pays for it

Edward H Rowan, Locum pharmacist

Please, what we don't want to do is spend ten minutes for each patient doing loads of paperwork just so we can supply 200ml of Simple Linctus.

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