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NHS England will exceed 1,500 'clinical pharmacist' target, GPs say

RCGP: Sufficient funding must be provided to increase the number of GP practice pharmacists
RCGP: Sufficient funding must be provided to increase the number of GP practice pharmacists

NHS England is set to exceed its target to recruit “clinical pharmacists” by 500, the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) has predicted.

In 2016, the GP Forward View included a promise to invest £31 million to pilot 470 clinical pharmacists in over 700 GP practices. NHS England later pledged to invest an additional £112m, with the aim that there should be 1,500 extra pharmacists working in general practice by 2021, to help relieve GP workload.

In a review on progress made on the GP Forward View, the RCGP said a total of 1,200 full time equivalent pharmacists will be in post in “summer 2018”.

And “indicative plans” for the programme suggest that this will rise to 2,000 by 2021, the RCGP said in its report, published on Tuesday (August 7), “exceeding the original target set out in the GP Forward View”.

However, their evidence suggests even more practice-based pharmacists will need to be recruited to meet demand, it added.

Practice pharmacists "spread too thinly"

The RCGP said feedback from GPs on the role has been “incredibly positive”, and suggested practice pharmacists can have a significant impact on GP workload.

It called for an “increase [in] the number of pharmacists available in general practice, particularly across groups of smaller practices where the pharmacist’s time will otherwise be spread too thinly”. The current ratio of clinical pharmacists working at a scale of one to 30,000 patients “should be reduced”, the college stressed.

Last month, an NHS-England funded evaluation of the scheme found that practice pharmacists have had a “significant impact” on the management of long-term conditions, and most GP practices are seeking to employ their pharmacist when the pilot funding ends in 2020-21.

However, the RCGP warned that some members are concerned they will not be able to continue to employ a pharmacist once the initial NHS England funding for the programme runs out.

“The sustainability of the employment of pharmacists in general practice therefore needs to be reviewed, and sufficient funding must be provided so that the clear benefits they provide in reducing workload and in the delivery of effective, safe patient care can continue,” it added.

Practice pharmacists will be "indispensable"

Tom Gregory, a practice pharmacist at New Court Surgery in Weston-super-Mare, Somerset, said reducing the ratio of one pharmacist for every 30,000 patients “makes sense”.

“The current limit means that practices have to work together to meet the scale, and so pharmacists don't become embedded in the practices,” he said.

“A GP practice wouldn't think of operating without a practice nurse now, I think it's only a matter of time before pharmacists are seen as just as indispensable.”

Would you consider applying for a GP pharmacist role?

Chris Pharmacist, Community pharmacist

This C&D comments section is fast becoming a complete waste of time. Defeated, bitter pharmacists with nothing positive or interesting to say or attention-seeking trolls is all it seems to attract...


Dave Downham, Manager

Take that back - we're not all pharmacists.

Peter Sainsburys, Community pharmacist

Nobody is forcing you to read the comments section....

Peter Sainsburys, Community pharmacist

Knowing how GPs are with money, I will be very surprised if they are willing to lose 30-40k a year to a lowly pharmacist. With adequate investment, I'm sure it can get off the ground, but when the NHS goes looking for further cuts it could all end in tears. Better to look for a different career.

Richard Binns, Primary care pharmacist

cheaper than having to employ a GP to do the same workload

Richard Binns, Primary care pharmacist

sorry guys, Im still struggling to understand the apparent levels of insecurity being demonstrated from some community pharmacists towards this new role?

its an opportunity to branch out for some individuals and find an alternative career path, yes there is an element of risk with regard to the piolet scheme and what happends when the funding stops, but many of us have secured roles that have not recieved any NHS funding from the get go and have made a succsess of it, so it is a valid career path.

At the end of the day, GPs workload is not decreasing anytime soon and increasingly the only means of remaining financially viable as a practice is to utilise Non-Medical Practitioners in roles traditionally filled by General Practitioners.

Why this is causing so much offence to the Community Pharmacist is beyond me

Richard Binns, Primary care pharmacist

and for the record I've been employed in both sectors and have very strong feelings which one offers the superior work/life balance, job satisfaction, support and appreciation from colleagues and level of job security.

each to theyre own at the end of the day!

Tom Gregory, Community pharmacist

I agree with you, however I am employed directly by the practice, and have 3 or 4 colleagues locally who are also employed directly by their practices, some of whom have been in practices since long before the funding was available. I agree with you that there might be a problem when funding dries up, as many jobs on the pilot scheme are fixed term for three years. Only time will tell what happens. I'm sure that practices will realise the benefits of pharmacists beyond simply being a part-funded member of staff

Abid P, Primary care pharmacist

If pharmacists working in the community pharmacies were treated with respect by multiples then you wouldn't have the brain drain you are seeing now. Their attitude stinks towards pharmacists and they will reap what they have sown.

Jonny Johal, Pharmacy Area manager/ Operations Manager

Brain drain or good riddance?

Peter Sainsburys, Community pharmacist

A bit of both.

Pharmacists are treated like garbage within the NHS. Any qualified pharmacist who manages to get out and do another job has made the best decision of their life.

A N, Community pharmacist

I am not sure that patients think the same when they have no access to community pharmacy due to the shortage of pharmacists across the country. 

geoffrey gardener, Community pharmacist

Dont think Joe Public will be too bothered, seeing more and more people signing up to "distant" repeat dispensing

Jonny Johal, Pharmacy Area manager/ Operations Manager

There are roughly 5 registered pharmacists to every registered pharmacy.

Peter Sainsburys, Community pharmacist

What Jonny is saying is that after you have qualified, you will have to work for complete buttons because there are dozens of mugs lining up to take that shift.

Do you really want to come into a profession where you have to do 17 hour shifts without a break for less than your council tax bill when if you do anything wrong you could be referred to the police?

World's worst profession.

Christopher Jay, Community pharmacist

How many clinical pharmacists will be employed in GP practices when the initial NHS funding runs out? Surely clinical pharmacists are not employed by GPs just because they are subsidised with funding, I hope not, time will tell.



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