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Pharmacist-GP collaboration could reduce arthritis ‘burden’, says charity

Arthritis Research UK's Tom Margham: Pharmacists should "look more broadly" at how they can help patients with osteoarthritis

The two professions should work together to share appropriate information and identify health goals for patients with the condition, says Arthritis Research UK primary care lead Tom Margham

Pharmacists and GPs must find “novel” ways to collaborate and reduce the “huge burden” of arthritis, a charity has said.

A quarter of local authorities failed to mention the condition in their assessment of their community’s health needs, said Arthritis Research UK, which called for pharmacists to promote self-management among patients.

As well as providing advice on painkillers and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, it said pharmacists should “look more broadly” at how they could assist patients with osteoarthritis. This included providing “simple advice around physical exercise and losing weight” where appropriate, said Arthritis Research UK primary care lead Tom Margham.

“They can also encourage those living with arthritis to speak with their GP if they are concerned about their symptoms, and work collaboratively to share appropriate information and identify priorities and goals to get the best outcomes,” he told C+D last week (March 12).

Dr Margham said the number of people diagnosed with arthritis in England was rising due to obesity and an ageing population, with between 15 and 21 per cent of over-45s now affected.

“This huge disease burden indicates that novel approaches such as collaborative care from GPs and pharmacists are needed to prevent and treat those with painful and often debilitating knee and hip osteoarthritis,” he argued.

Local authorities 'failing' patients

Arthritis Research UK added that 62 per cent of local authorities had not mentioned back pain in their health needs assessment. 

“A number of authorities are failing in their duty to assess the needs of people with arthritis and back pain, and we’re concerned they may not be providing appropriate services,” it said.

The charity said that there was an “urgent need” for all authorities to “properly assess the impact” of these conditions on their communities.

Pharmacy Voice chief executive Rob Darracott said pharmacists’ care for these patients could be “developed in a far more efficient way” if they had access to their summary care records.

“Access would allow pharmacy teams to resolve potential problems with medicines management before they occur, making life easier for the patient and reducing the chance of the medicine not being taken as intended,” he told C+D.


What else could pharmacists do to improve care for arthritis sufferers?

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