Northern Ireland’s national commissioner has pledged £17 million to employ 400 pharmacists in GP practices, C+D has learned.
The Health and Social Care Board will fund the initiative over five years, with £4.5m allocated to employ 70 pharmacists this year, the British Medical Association for Northern Ireland (BMA NI) told C+D on Monday (July 13). It could not provide a breakdown of how the remaining £12.5m would be spread out over the rest of the scheme.
Although the pharmacists – up to 400 in total – would be employed by GP federations, they would all be based in specific GP surgeries, BMA NI said. There was “no indication” at this stage how many pharmacists would work in each federation, it stressed.
Krishna Kasaraneni, chair of the BMA’s GP training, education and workforce subcommittee, said this announcement – along with NHS England’s decision earlier this month to fund 250 clinical pharmacists in GP practices – was an “encouraging sign that the potential and importance of the pharmacy sector is being recognised”.
BMA NI said employing pharmacists would “free up GPs’ time to meet with patients”.
“Pharmacists will be able to assist GPs [by] reviewing and issuing repeat prescriptions, checking and reconciling drugs for patients discharged from hospital, help with monitoring some chronic conditions; as well as improving quality and cost-effectiveness in prescribing,” it said.
GP federations were working with Northern Ireland’s Department of Health to “draw down” the government’s money so they could begin recruiting pharmacists, it added.
Last month, the Scottish government announced it would invest £16m to recruit pharmacist prescribers to work alongside GPs.
Would you consider employment in a GP surgery? Share your thoughts on Twitter with #PharmsInGPs
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