NHS Alliance is wary of NHS England’s plan to recruit a further 1,500 pharmacists to work in general practices, it has revealed.
"Clinical pharmacists" working in GP practices “appear to be viewed as the cavalry appearing over the horizon”, the primary care organisation pointed out.
But it warned that GP practices are not necessarily a “universal place for patients to be dispensed their medication”, and that “purely co-locating disparate services in the same building [does not] automatically lead to fully integrated care”.
"Run the gauntlet of receptionists"
“We are increasingly moving this clinical workforce into GP practices, where patients have to run the gauntlet of receptionists and appointment systems in the name of ‘improving access’, NHS Alliance said in a report on Tuesday (June 21).
“The NHS needs clinical pharmacists within general practice... But the NHS also needs clinical pharmacists within a community pharmacy setting, and a strategy for community pharmacy to deliver its potential.”
Give pharmacy same investment as GPs
NHS Alliance also called on NHS England to give community pharmacy the same investment and backing that it has shown to general practice – by developing a forward view for the sector.
Despite the government launching several high-profile policy drives that focus on GPs – such as NHS Vanguards and the Prime Minister's Challenge Fund, pharmacists are “the most underutilised healthcare professional in the NHS”, NHS Alliance said.
Too little progress has been made in the sector and “it is time for more proactive action,” it added.
Challenging Bruce Keogh's view
The organisation challenged NHS England medical director Sir Bruce Keogh’s view that the NHS can cope with increasing demand through better prevention and greater efficiency of care. It argued that this challenge will not be met without developing a forward view for community pharmacy.
"We would like to suggest NHS England pays specific attention to commissioning a community pharmacy-led new model of care, looking to fully utilise the pharmacist’s expertise within the heart of communities,” it added.