NHS England has more than doubled the funding to employ pharmacists in GP surgeries.
The commissioning body originally earmarked £15 million to partially fund “at least” 250 practice pharmacists, and confirmed today (November 16) that this will be increased to £31m to employ 403 pharmacists.
NHS England has now picked the 73 sites that will take part in the scheme, covering a total of 698 GP practices. These sites will begin recruiting pharmacists “immediately”, with roles due to begin in the spring, it said.
Last month, the organisation’s chief executive Simon Stevens announced the scheme would be expanded due to a “staggering” response from applicants, and NHS England confirmed today that the regional panels set up to assess applications were “impressed by the outstanding quality of responses”.
The pilots sites will cover a population of more than 7m patients, NHS England said. "The benefits patients can expect include extra help to manage long-term conditions, specific advice for those with multiple medications and more access to clinical advice on treatments,” NHS England added.
British Medical Association (BMA) GP committee chair Chaand Nagpaul said the scheme is a “positive and important opportunity to develop the role of pharmacists” in relieving the “unsustainable pressures faced by GPs”.
“We need to ensure that the benefits from these pilots can be extended to all practices nationally,” he added.
The Royal Pharmaceutical Society launched a joint proposal for more GP surgeries to employ pharmacists in March, and the society's English Pharmacy Board chair Sandra Gidley said NHS England’s extra £16m investment is “a real vote of confidence in the pharmacy profession”.
“More patients will see first hand the difference a practice pharmacist can make to their health, and more GPs will come to regard them as an essential part of the multidisciplinary team,” she added.
Where are the pilots?