Sue Sharpe: 'GPs should be demanding community pharmacy helps them'

Sue Sharpe: The most powerful voice comes from pharmacists on the ground

The Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) has organised a meeting with the doctors’ trade union to encourage GPs to see pharmacy as a solution to its workload pressures.

Speaking at the Pharmacy Show in Birmingham on Sunday (October 8), PSNC chief executive Sue Sharpe said the negotiator has a meeting booked with Richard Vautrey, chair of the British Medical Association's (BMA) general practitioners committee, to encourage better working relationships between the two professions.

“To me, it is clear that general practice should be demanding that community pharmacy takes some of the workload,” Ms Sharpe said in response to a question from the audience on how the negotiator plans to reach out to other national bodies.

“It is folly to think of general practice as our enemy. We must think of them as people who are suffering a massive uphill struggle, and there is an opportunity for pharmacy...to resolve some of the problems.”

Ms Sharpe's comments come after Andrew Green, GP clinical and prescribing policy lead at the BMA, told C+D last month that the pharmacy flu service has “undermined good working relationships between practices and pharmacists”.

Rebuilding relationships

Ms Sharpe – who will step down from the role at the end of the year – said PSNC would continue to lobby and campaign at a national level for community pharmacy to be fully valued.

The "best outcome" from the negotiator's impending appeal against the High Court's decision on its case against the pharmacy funding cuts would be "that we rebuild positive and constructive relationships" with government and policy makers, she added.

"[We need to] get them to understand that pharmacy is not only a sector they can work with, but need to work with, to deliver care as general practice gets into a real crisis."

She also called on pharmacists and pharmacy teams to “forge good relationships with GPs” at a local level.

“[More] localised responsibility for service commissioning means that we all need to get involved in it,” Ms Sharpe added. “We have a battle of survival and it is up to us and you to fight it together.”

The PSNC chief suggested that the “most powerful voice comes from [pharmacists] on the ground, making sure the experience is real for every member of the community”.

“Critically difficult period”

Ms Sharpe used her Pharmacy Show session to give an overview of the current landscape for community pharmacy.

She warned that the “full brunt [of the funding cuts] won’t be felt until [contractors] get the cheque on 1st November”, when category M reductions will take full effect.

This, coupled with “massive price increases” and “the highest ever number of price concessions” means this is a “critically difficult period for community pharmacies”, she warned.

PSNC confirmed last week (October 6) it has written to pharmacy minister Steve Brine to seek “urgent intervention” on the ongoing generics supply issues.

The topic will be debated in the House of Lords “later this month”, the negotiator added.

Catch up on the tweets from the Pharmacy Show with C+D's Storify.

8 Comments
Question: 
How does your pharmacy help to relieve pressure on GPs?

Locum Pharmacist, Locum pharmacist

New representation may be in order. GPs are already unhappy with pharmacists taking flu jabs and Ms Sharpe is telling GPs to demand pharmacists help them. She fails to recognise that we are a profession in our own right with our own role and responsibilities- we do not and should not require validation from GPs. I imagine most GPs won't like us stepping on their toes. 

I feel the relationship between pharmacists and GPs suffered tremendously due to pharmacists/pharmacy staff ordering repeats on behalf of patients. Due to this service, we ended up hounding GP staff for missing prescriptions- something that the vast majority of patients are capable of doing themselves- rather than calling them to discuss clinical issue with prescriptions. We can thank the multiples for that too I believe.

As pharmacists we are the experts in medicines and easily accessible to patients. Despite this, most pharmacy organisations seem keen for pharmacists to take on GPs roles (even though there won't be enough for all the pharmacists out there due to oversupply) and for technicians to take on the role of pharmacists even though that would obviously endanger public safety. We should all work within our own area of expertise and not blur the lines between the very different roles.

Benjamin Leon D'Montigny, Non Pharmacist Branch Manager

I see Pharmacy and Surgery as just two parts of a whole. It shouldn't be a competitive setup. If one does well so does the other. Then ultimate who would win? Patients.

Kevin Western, Community pharmacist

Great Benjamin...Ive just spent a waste of time reading our brand new STP documents... lots of mentions of "clinical" Pharmacists ie employed by GPS and generating income for them.... Community Pharmacy? oops must have forgotten that one...

M Nazari, Community pharmacist

I think Mrs Sharp really needs to spend a full day in a Pharmacy and Yes, I mean from 8am till 10pm to realise Pharmacist's workload. We do not get toilet breaks and the toilet door gets knocked on us and she is offering Pharmacist's free help to GP's; not mentioning that she thinks they should be demanding rather agreeing and talking to us.   

Kevin Western, Community pharmacist

...and the flip side is, If the GPs only realised - if they suddenly handed us everything we asked for we would be scuppered.. there isnt the spare capacity anymore with all the burocratic rubbish we have to wade thro.

Gerry Diamond, Primary care pharmacist

Mrs Sharpe as a practice pharmacist and having spent some 30 years in community, my advice is where will community pharmacist get the time and think it's time you retired.Good luck

Kevin Western, Community pharmacist

“To me, it is clear that general practice should be demanding that community pharmacy takes some of the workload,” Ms Sharpe said in response to a question from the audience on how the negotiator plans to reach out to other national bodies.

“It is folly to think of general practice as our enemy. We must think of them as people who are suffering a massive uphill struggle, and there is an opportunity for pharmacy...to resolve some of the problems.”

I think you have missed the point Sue... its General practice that sees US as the enemy. we get regular whinges about how overworked GPs re until they get more money then they are ok again until the next negotition point, then they are overworked agin.... i've never seen work disappear because i'm paid more...  in reality they are quite happy squeezing more and more from the DOH while our negotiators plaay the nice card and fail miserably

If they give us work they have to pay us, and possibly even talk to us (yes, I know...) and those are just beyond the pale for most GPs

Ilove Pharmacy, Non Pharmacist Branch Manager

The GPs are no less one eyed and greedy than multiples. They just have a much better and effective PR machine but their mask is slipping.

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