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GPs wary of costs of practice pharmacist pilot

Dr Paul Deffley: Funding restriction will undoubtedly reduce interest

GP Paul Deffley says some of his colleagues see co-funding a pharmacist as a "leap of faith"


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”.


Today's blog: Dr Messenger – Have we been set up to fail by the government?


Are any GPs in your area applying for the scheme?

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Peter Marshall, Community pharmacist

The answer is simple. GP surgeries should be allowed to use ring fenced money to pay the full costs of employing a practice pharmacist, and the money is only available if they employ a pharmacist. The benefits of employing a practice pharmacist will result in reduced drug costs, reduced hospital admissions and better integration of pharmacists in the primary healthcare team, so in the long term it is a no brainer. The current trial is too complicated, and it is no wonder GP surgeries are wary of it.

THB _B, Community pharmacist

imagine pharmacists saying to DoH - sorry we are not taking part as there is no direct benefit to me and my practice. Who care about the Health of the nation or the NHS..... :-/ of course- GPs are private contractors so they can choose the take part or pharmacists....

Mitesh Patel, Community pharmacist

They're missing the point. A practice pharmacist can achieve the following with the main goal being to save "time" and maximise QIIP and QOF revenues. The two will synergistically lead to more revenues for gps to fund the cost of a practice pharmacist but chiefly mean that the gps are doing what they do best which is seeing acute patients and reviewing long term conditions. Meanwhile the pharmacist takes care of: Rx signing Acute requests Prescribing advice QOF candidate identification Medicines management (which will lead to NHS savings and therefore contribute in the bigger picture)

Bal Singh, Locum pharmacist

So the surgeries need to pay the remaining salaries of 5 pharmacists for 2 years? 5 pharmacists per site were listed in the outline. 1 clinically qualified senior and four juniors. That's 40percent in the 1st, 60 in the 2nd, 80 in the final. Average salary is meant to be about 40,000? That's £80, 000 in the 1st year, £120, 000 in the second year, and £160, 000 in the final year. Hmmm mm. Naturally if I'm wrong please correct me.

Gerry Diamond, Primary care pharmacist

Hope it works out and there are benefits to reducing drug budgets, reviewing meds, dealing with script problems and helping with clinics such as minor illness, immunisation and all sorts. Good luck!

N O, Pharmaceutical Adviser

""he cost savings will be “to the health economy, not the practice”, Dr Watson told"""........"If we reduce the spend on drugs [and] hospital admissions, that’s not going to help me and my practice""......... So, what is new? Whoever said in the best interests of public, GPs and Pharmacists? You know what it is

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