Some GPs are reluctant to apply for NHS England’s practice pharmacist pilot because of the limited funding, senior doctors have told C+D.
Practices have until September 17 to apply for the scheme, which will see NHS England spend £15 million to fund 250 pharmacists in pilot sites across the country. The commissioning body will pay 60 per cent of these pharmacists’ fees for their first year, dropping to 20 per cent by the third and final year.
Wessex local medical committee chair Nigel Watson said GPs he had spoken to were put off applying for the scheme because of the short-term funding. GPs “can see the potential” of employing a pharmacist, but the cost savings will be “to the health economy, not the practice”, Dr Watson told C+D last month (August 7).
“If we reduce the spend on drugs [and] hospital admissions, that’s not going to help me and my practice,” he said.
Paul Deffley, GP and clinical lead at primary care federation Brighton Integrated Care Services, told C+D last week (August 26) that the drop-off in funding will “undoubtedly reduce the level of interest” among GPs.
GPs will have to make a “significant contribution” to employ a pharmacist, and practices saw applying for the project as a “leap of faith”, said Mr Deffley, who has been involved in producing bids from GPs.
Despite this, he predicted that there will still be “fierce competition” to take part in the initiative. GPs in Brighton are producing up to 11 bids for the scheme, he said.
Some practices are hoping to use alternative funding streams – such as the government’s Better Care Fund – to subsidise the project, he added.
Grassroots GPs taking part in C+D’s Twitter debate in July backed the initiative, saying it would free up their time and help provide a “better service for patients”.
Are any GPs in your area applying for the scheme?
We want to hear your views, but please express them in the spirit of a constructive, professional debate. For more information about what this means, please click here to see our community principles and information