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.