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GP Pharmacist: Here are 3 pharmacy services to ease pressure on GPs

gp pharmacist
"We are entering a brave new world of primary care networks"

The new community pharmacy contract should divert demand from GP surgeries by focusing on medicines safety, polypharmacy and minor ailments, says The GP Pharmacist

There are strong suspicions of a significant overhaul ahead regarding new services for community pharmacy. They began with reports that members of the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) had urged the organisation to give them plenty of notice about any changes that result from negotiations for the 2019-20 pharmacy contract, and were bolstered by pharmacy minister Seema Kennedy’s recent comments regarding an "expanded role" for the sector.

I’ve always thought that community pharmacists are underutilised and that, given the right services to deliver, they could positively impact on workload in general practice, mine included. This is especially true with the onset of the new GP contract and its emphasis on medicines safety.

Here are a few community pharmacy services that I think would benefit general practice:

  1. A medication safety service that not only empowers community pharmacists to recommend changes to patients’ medication to improve safe prescribing, but also enables them to see those changes through. One example, and there are many I could think of, would be to be able to add in a gastroprotective agent to a patient being prescribed a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug, in line with current guidance.
  2. A polypharmacy service that places the community pharmacist as integral in addressing deprescribing. Community pharmacists are not only perfectly placed to support patients in the decision-making process, but also to follow up and monitor them after medications have been stopped.
  3. And last, but by no means least, a comprehensive minor ailments service. If this was well-thought out and implemented with due consideration, it is the service that would have the most positive impact on GP surgeries; not only reducing workload, but also footfall into the premises, thus freeing up space for other consultations.

There is a huge ‘but’ here though. As Seema Kennedy touched on at the National Pharmacy Association’s conference in June, confidence in the sector is crucial. Not just from patients, but also from other healthcare professionals. That confidence comes from belief in the skills of the workforce, and the subsequent responsibility for their actions.

The new community pharmacy contract must empower pharmacists to ‘own’ the decisions they make about patients; not just ‘make recommendations’ that then have to be processed at the surgery and result in even more work. As well as sufficient funding and improved systems for full record sharing, this requires comprehensive training and upskilling.

We are entering a brave new world of primary care networks (PCNs) in which we are told community pharmacy will become fully integrated, and the dividing lines will increasingly blur. Surely it is time for all ‘primary care pharmacists’ to be classed as one – and have access to the same training.

Community pharmacists should be able to enrol on the same 18-month ‘clinical’ pharmacist training pathway that is being put in place for the GP pharmacists being funded in the new GP contract, as well as supported to gain their independent prescribing qualification.

This would truly show commitment from NHS England for its long-term plan and the desire to have community pharmacists as an integral part of PCNs.

The GP Pharmacist is a former community pharmacist working in a general practice

11 Comments
Question: 
What services would you like to see in the new funding contract?

Dodo pharmacist, Community pharmacist

Great idea - 3 new services to reduce pressure on GP practices. After all, we are just standing around doing sweet FA at the moment aren’t we!

Reeyah H, Community pharmacist

Sick of hearing about PCNs too- I still don’t see how joining up surgeries is going to benefit the patients. It’s a mess as it is with huge surgeries struggling to cope with their patient numbers.

Reeyah H, Community pharmacist

Sorry, I can’t go around studying extra stuff when I’m barely surviving the day and staying behind to finish things off on a daily basis. Now if I could afford regular locums, and take pressure off my poor staff by getting more staff in, I may consider it. Meanwhile, I’m powerless to take pressure off myself, nevermind GPs!!!!!

Tired Manager, Community pharmacist

We need adequate funding to get more than one pharmacist into pharmacies in order to properly implement this

Adam Hall, Community pharmacist

I'll keep it simple - SHOW ME THE MONEY!

A LOCUM, Community pharmacist

"Community pharmacists should be able to enrol on the same 18-month ‘clinical’ pharmacist training pathway that is being put in place for the GP pharmacists being funded in the new GP contract, as well as supported to gain their independent prescribing qualification."

I personally think this is a must for the profession, lets get on with it Seema 

Caroline Jones, Community pharmacist

I’m not clear on the rationale for a ‘Minor Ailments Service’; I think it should be scrapped!

The DoH has produced guidance on the use of OTC products as self care, that the patient should purchase! GP’s are advised by their CCG to follow this, so a MAS just  shifts the supply of this to pharmacies from GP’s.....there is still an over inflated cost to the NHS.....

Lucky Ex-Locum, Superintendent Pharmacist

Frankly, I'm not that interested in reducing the 'pressure' on GPs who only work limited hours and retire at 55. I'm more interested in reducing the pressure on me and my staff, thankyou very much.

Alexander The Great, Community pharmacist

Yes, agree. This GP pharmacist is who no longer a pharmacist, keeps writing articles that dont understand the pharmacists role anymore and is all in their favour. We need someone to pass on our workload too! You are spot on, they work part time and retire will million pound pension pots when they are not even empoyed by the NHS (they are contractors!!)... we are contractors and get shafted!!!

V K P, Community pharmacist

how is it that the work is always diverted out from the GPs and the pharmacy is the default receiver of the work?? is the money going to be divereted as well. no chance. 

If all the work is being diverted out than what are all the highly qualified GPs going to do with the time and what are they currently doing already? they want to get paid for doing nothing??? it looks like thats the easiest way of making money. 

 

Paul Dishman, Pharmaceutical Adviser

Good ideas, but they will depend on time being found to carry them out and the money necessary to pay for them. All too often pharmacists have been persuaded or expected to work for nothing and that is just not on.

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