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Hunt pledges £7.5m to train community pharmacists

Hunt: Models of collaboration between GPs and pharmacists have "great potential"

Money will be also be spent on "appropriate tools" for the sector in England says health secretary as he celebrates collaboration with GPs

Health secretary Jeremy Hunt has committed £7.5 million to support the training of community pharmacists in England.  

The money would come from the government's £1 billion primary care infrastructure fund - launched in December to "accelerate improvements" in GP premises and IT systems - and would be used to “support community pharmacists with training and appropriate tools”, Mr Hunt said during a speech on Friday (June 19).

The health secretary used his speech to set out his “new deal” for GPs, and praised 16 practices in Brighton that had created “primary care clusters” with local pharmacies. This model had allowed pharmacists to view GP records and provided patients with evening appointments, he said.

Local GP Jonathan Serjeant had described the pilot as a “fantastic opportunity for practices to work with pharmacists to design and provide care for people”, Mr Hunt said.

This model had “great potential”, said Mr Hunt, who encouraged GPs to “play your part by getting in the driving seat as we move towards more multidisciplinary working”.

Employing more pharmacists

Mr Hunt said he was committed to his election pledge to increase the primary and community care workforce by at least 10,000. This would involve employing an estimated 5,000 doctors, alongside community pharmacists, nurses and physician associates- who support doctors in the diagnosis and management of patients- Mr Hunt said.

NHS England had published data on clinical staffing levels for every practice in England on Friday, which showed an “unacceptably large” variation between areas with similar socio-economic profiles, he said.

More than 1,000 GP practices had approved their bids for government investment into “exciting plans to expand service”, he said. These including “housing integrated services with community and pharmacy providers”, he stressed.

The government would also use its primary care infrastructure fund to “support digital innovation”, he said. “We will help practices link their patient records to secondary and community care providers and the social care sector,” he added.


What would you like to see the £7.5 million spent on?

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


Stephen Walsh, Community pharmacist

Looks from the announcement just made, that it's to train us on access to Summary Care Records. Or that might be another £7.5m.

Why are we silent about prescribing policies? The department of health recommends 28 day prescribing interval. But many practices are openly issues 56 or more day repeats. This severely cuts fees and allowances to pharmacy for the same workload. It also causes huge waste of NHS money. So let's all fight to protect our existences before we worry future funding for further training. Long duration repeat prescriptions will close pharmacies if not stopped!

Caroline Jones, Community pharmacist

Seems like a great idea in principle; however, you can't have 'community' pharmacists prescribing regardless of having an IP qualification - it would be a conflict of interests, potentially having the same pharmacist writing and dispensing a prescription.

Graham Stretch, Primary care pharmacist

Is the conflict over NHS resources or safety? Does that same reservation apply to private Rx? The legal instrument, the prescription, facilitates the supply of legally restricted POM medicines by IP pharmacists. But how, in safety terms, is that different to a pharmacist responding to a patients symptoms and supplying a 'P' eg Nexium or chloramphenicol?

Paul Mayberry, Community pharmacist

I wouldn't want the same person to write my prescription, dispense my medicines and write my death certificate!

Paul Mayberry, Community pharmacist

Yes, it should be illegal. Just like GPs having an interest in a pharmacy or directing Rxs

Excellent move from Mr. Hunt, as mentioned before this is a demand side policy that should encourage a higher demand for pharmacists and therefore increase wages. To the pessimists I say continue to do what you do, day in and day out. There will be plenty of bright pharmacists willing to take the chance and move the profession in the right direction, that is away from simple dispensing to a valuable clinical and therefore a cost saving role for the NHS.

N O, Pharmaceutical Adviser

Our profession is, as against the GPs, is always doomed because of these actions we take -- OF JUMPING ON TO THE CRUMBS THROWN AT US (IN BOLD). When will we realise that we don't need to show our potential by accepting anything and everything thrown at us for bits and pieces of PEANUTS. We already have the potential, let's use that first and then talk about doing more. Wake up call !!

London Locum, Locum pharmacist

That Ship has sailed a long time ago.

Paul Mayberry, Community pharmacist

The entire Primary Care system is flawed. It was OK in 1948 but is no longer fit for purpose. GP's are seen as the first port of call to the NHS by many. But they are expensive and there's not enough of them. 38% of everything done by a GP could be done by another health professional. There are plenty of pharmacists and there are pharmacies on almost every high st in the country. They are accessible, and can be seen without registration or appointment. We are the answer to many of the problems that face the NHS. But we need to educate the public to come to us before going to a GP or A&E, we need to convince the commissioners that we can provide cost effective services and we need the current workforce to upskill to be able to deliver these services effectively.

Dilip Shah, Community pharmacist

Good new for monies allocated to training but this figure might not be sufficient to make a substantial difference to the vision of truly integrated service but its a minor step forward.

What is Mr Hunt going to do about long duration repeat prescriptions? Many pharmacies will close unless 56 day or longer repeats are stopped.

Working with GPs is all very well and good, except for that there will be none left if they keep leaving in their droves at the current rate. Hunt's "new deal" has done nothing except to raise their shackles even higher. I'm happy to be labelled a "regular pessimist" if necessary, but I'll believe it when I see it.

P M, Community pharmacist

4 years Msc , 1 year Pre reg and more training is needed?

Graham Stretch, Primary care pharmacist

The MPharm + pre-reg is the entry level qualification. I can't think of another profession that would ask if more training was needed. GPs train for 4 years+ post qualification. Consultants much more. The same is true in law, accountancy and all other professions. So a prescribing qualification and ideally a diploma would seem to be two ways for an aspirational pharmacist to develop their career, it looks like funding may be available to help.

Graham Stretch, Primary care pharmacist

London Locum, Locum pharmacist

Most of the money will end up with a private organisation with a good chunk siphoned off by the lucky directors. In a 3/4 years time the government will report that the scheme was not so great and the NHS remains in dire straits. Thumbs down if you disagree.

Kevin Western, Community pharmacist

in what and how? - I would guess they will hand it over to cppe and wash their hands - it then becomes someone elses problem and they can say they are helping pharmacy.

Graham Stretch, Primary care pharmacist

Wonderful news, new resources to train existing pharmacists for a rewarding role in primary care. Sadly C&Ds regular pessimists will disagree, but hopefully a large number of pharmacists will access this funding and be able to gain extra qualifications and skills to offer new patient centred pharmacy services in GP surgeries and in pharmacies. Pessimists need not apply.....

Graham Stretch, Primary care pharmacist

I have been practicing for more than twenty years and also have seen a number of disappointments. Let us celebrate our profession. Choose perhaps 1000 of our brightest and spend say £5000 on helping them gain a prescribing qualification, primary care would be transformed by these 1000 pharmacists working within GP networks. If this works, then more money will surely follow. Of course I wish it was £70million, but we have been given a substantial sum and we must try to use it to best effect. Adding £7.5 million to the global sum will do nothing, this training proposal promises to help our most committed and proactive colleagues to further their careers and potentially improve the professions standing immeasurably. Who amongst us wouldn’t welcome that?

Kevin Western, Community pharmacist

they do say an optimist is a pessimist who doesnt learn from history, but I would love something substantial to come from this, and god knows we and the nhs need it, but having got my hopes up countless times over the last 20 years, i will breath normally until it happens

N O, Pharmaceutical Adviser

Hoping the entire amount is dedicated to only the Pharmacists' training and no red-tape, could you please work-out the costs involved in re-training in the qualifications you are suggesting (as compared to the "yet to be declared" role/ qualifications) and enlighten us on how many Pharmacists would be able to apply. Mr. Optimist please make sure you add the extra inflow another 2000+ newly qualified (and most vulnerable) Pharmacists this year (unless this whole funding is just meant for these Pharmacists) Then, we will talk .....

N O, Pharmaceutical Adviser

So our worth is not even 1% of the total """""primary care infrastructure fund"""". That says it all. And that to this fund is being spent on (god knows what and how and where) training Pharmacists, so that they can help fill the gaps in GP services. So Mr. Hunt is back to from where he left before the elections, i.e more B.S.

London Locum, Locum pharmacist

You have to hand it to this guy, absolutely hilarious. But thanks we really need more Pharmacists at the moment.

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