A pilot site in an NHS England initiative to employ more pharmacists in GP surgeries has struggled with practices pulling out of the scheme.
The East Coast Community Healthcare pilot site in Great Yarmouth told C+D that three of the seven GP practices that had initially signed up for the scheme had pulled out after having to divert their funding so they could replace a GP, rather than employ a pharmacist.
This had “hugely affected” the organisation’s ability to stick to NHS England’s “very challenging” timeline for the pharmacist recruitment process, the pilot site’s head of pharmacy and medicines management Emma Tang told C+D last week (April 12).
However, the commissioner had been accommodating of the delays, and the pilot site had since been able to find three replacement practices to take part. “So far, five of the surgeries have pharmacies in post, with the remaining two coming on board in the next few weeks,” Ms Tang said.
“All surgeries have made future plans to have the practice pharmacist running face-to-face clinics for long-term conditions, freeing up time for the GP to see more acute conditions,” she said.
In response to the problems experienced by the pilot site, Royal College of General Practitioners chair Maureen Baker said it is “reassuring that some practices are resolving their GP shortages and managing to take on new doctors”.
“We would like to see continued funding for them to take on other professionals as part of their practice teams,” she told C+D.
The practice pharmacy scheme, which launched in December, is a “major step forward” in easing the workload and workforce problems facing GPs, Dr Baker added.