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Pharmacists must take on GP workload to save NHS money

Practice Demands on GPs will rise even further unless patients started visiting pharmacies and caring for themselves, all-party parliamentary group on primary care and public health chair Nick de Bois (pictured) has said.

Pharmacists must take on more of the GP workload if the NHS is to save money, all-party parliamentary group (APPG) on primary care and public health chair Nick de Bois has said.

Demands on GPs would rise even further unless patients started visiting pharmacies and caring for themselves, Mr de Bois argued at the APPG's annual reception last week.

Mr de Bois said the past 10 years had seen only a 2 per cent switch of activity from GPs to pharmacists, as he called for a stronger focus on pharmacy in primary care.

"The more we make use of pharmacists' skills, the more that will be to the patient advantage" Nick de Bois, APPG on primary care and public health

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He highlighted that annual GP consultations had increased from four to five and a half per person since 2002. And he argued that the NHS was some way off reaching its goal of boosting self care, outlined 10 years ago in government adviser Derek Wanless' report on the future of the NHS.

"The more we make use of pharmacists' skills, the more that will be to the patient advantage," Mr de Bois told C+D in an exclusive interview.

And this could be brought about by a change in funding, Mr de Bois said. "We shouldn't be so obsessed by price, but by quality," he argued. "There needs to be a holistic look at moving away from pounds per pack to focus on integrated care and outcomes."

PSNC also stressed that pharmacies could help overcome the financial challenges facing the NHS. "Community pharmacy minor ailments schemes can free up GP resources, giving doctors the time to focus on more complex cases," said PSNC head of NHS services Alastair Buxton.

Earlier this month, Nuffield Trust warned of a potential £54 billion shortfall in NHS funding in the next 10 years unless the health service made unprecedented productivity gains. The trust's report estimated that demand for GP consultations would rise even further by 2021-22, to an annual average of 7.8 per person.

"Without unprecedented, sustained increases in productivity, funding for health in England will need to increase in real terms after 2014-15 to avoid cuts to the service or a fall in the quality of care patients receive," said Anita Charlesworth, co-author of the report and chief economist at the Nuffield Trust.

Is pharmacy ready to take on more of GPs' workload?

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David Liston, Other pharmacist

Has anybody heard the latest government announcement? It is that they are looking at professionals being able to qualify without a university degree! I swear that I am not making this up (honest). I wonder which " profession" they might choose for the pilot scheme? Doctors? (I don't think so), Lawyers? (I don't think the gov. could afford the costs). Pharmacists? (why not? They're weak and stand for anything after all.) Tell you what, you choose! I'm too busy looking for a new and fulfilling career.Love and best wishes to you all out there. Dave

David Liston, Other pharmacist

Hi, for could read couldn't in line 4 above ( I was sure I typed couldn't but seemingly not). Dave

David Liston, Other pharmacist

H,i sorry ignore that, line 4 is correct in original form.Dave

David Liston, Other pharmacist

Hi , pharmacists are famous for being apathetic and nowhere is it more obvious than here. Out of the 50,000 registered pharmacists how many show any interest in what's happening, perhaps 100 no more than that. This of course is why it is happening.

RB Pharmacist, Community pharmacist

And who will take pharmacist's current workload? Any suggestions?

Anne Butler, Locum pharmacist

No New work without more money. Stop doing more and more for nothing. The more we do for nothing the more the government will let us. Stop living in cloud cuckoo land and hoping that when we show how good we are the NHS will adequately reward us for it. The workload now is not adequately remunerated. We need adequate payment for core services without recutting the pie to accommodate the latest scheme that neither pharmacists on the front line or the patients want. PSNC please note. Ask the patients what they want. They want a fast , accurate dispensing service without having to wait for expensive or hard to get drugs. They don't want to be badgered into MUR's or NMS just so the company can achieve its tick box target. They like free delivery service, free prescription ordering and free monitored dose systems, none of which is paid for by the NHS.

Chris Locum, Locum pharmacist

The British public were sold the lie that N.I contributions paid for healthcare and they still believe this false notion despite the situation we are in. We have turned ourselves into a commodity to counter falling returns on services provided.

Only we could be fool enough to run to the slightest suggestion of 'new roles' for pharmacists. We have made an unprecedented contribution over the last decade with the increase in dispensing volumes for LESS in real terms.

People run harder than ever in a hideous litigious and professional climate....the reward is to keep running on the hamster wheel . We are in momentous times for the worst of reasons !!

What about GP productivity ?

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