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RCGP seeks new government's support for surgery pharmacists

Maureen Baker: "Encouraged" that 85 per cent of people live within a 20-minute walk of a GP

Royal College of General Practitioners chair Maureen Baker says the organisation wants to explore "different ways of working" with the help of newly appointed politicians

The Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) is “looking forward” to working with the new government to place pharmacists in surgeries.

The RCGP and the Royal Pharmaceutical Society announced plans in March to employ an “army” of pharmacists in GP practices. RCGP chair Maureen Baker said yesterday (May 7) that this was one of the “different ways of working” that it wanted to explore with the government elected today (May 8).

Ms Baker said she was “encouraged” by a report that showed 85 per cent of the English population lived within a 20-minute walk of a GP surgery. This was 4 per cent less than the proportion who lived the same distance from a community pharmacy, said the report’s Durham University authors.

Community pharmacies were "consistently" more accessible than GP surgeries but this gap was "particularly" wide in the least deprived areas, said the authors of the report published in British Medical Journal today (May 8).

The report - which claimed to be the first to compare the accessibility of GP surgeries on foot compared to community pharmacies - had “potential implications for commissioning future healthcare services” from both professions, the authors said.

Eighty-one per cent of patients in the most affluent areas lived within a 20-minute walk from a GP surgery, rising to 98 per cent of people in the most deprived areas, the authors added.

Ms Baker said the report showed that deprived patients had “easier than average access to their GP and even easier access to a community pharmacy, where they can receive advice about medicines and how to manage minor ailments”.

In March, the RCGP reassured the sector that pharmacists employed in GP practices would remain "autonomous", in response to concerns from C+D readers that the plans could put GPs “in full control” of primary healthcare.


Would you consider working in a GP surgery?

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Graham Phillips, Superintendent Pharmacist

Maybe we need both? And we need them to be complimentary NOT competitive in their effect? Can we see a way to federate local GPs and pharmacies, and for the federated pharmacies to offer the federated GP practices additional pharmacy support both thru the pharmacies and at the surgery? Is this beyond the wit and wisdom of man? Or could it be our mutually-assured future?

SP Ph, Community pharmacist

We already have BOTH. There are practice pharmacists who are currently doing jobs at the cost to the surgeries. But if what Ms. Baker & RPS propose becomes a reality, then there will be more of the first and less of the second. In other words, the GPs would not only save on what they pay to practice pharmacists at the moment from their own funds, they would also get more pharmacy orientated services commissioned through the surgeries leaving the community sector losing on the opportunity. Hope this whole gets thrown out and sense prevails in letting GPs do what they are good at and leave the other non-urgent cases to be dealt by Pharmacists at the PHARMACY. The harmony does exist at the moment because we rectify so many errors from these GPs and also do favours in advising what to prescribe and what not to (including latest NICE guidelines) It's this funding bubble that is creating all these un-necessary so called innovative ideas.

Graham Phillips, Superintendent Pharmacist

I totally agree. That's exactly the risk. So lets put forward the alternatives . Something like this: The Five Year Forward View proposes federations of GPs within locality to move forward on commissioning. Its already happening. So we must create a community pharmacy "federation of the willing" to work with the GPs on commissioning. The CP federation offers Meds Optimisation and HLP services to the GPS - ie to the same patient population. This will require the investment of some on Simon Stephen's 8billion into community pharmacy. The federated pharmacies employ additional pharmacists between them so creating capacity and mopping up the unemployed recent graduates at a stroke. Simple! Well in theory it is.. but this is where RPS must show leadership. The alternative doesn't bear thinking about

SP Ph, Community pharmacist

“potential implications for commissioning future healthcare services” -------- Ms Baker, this means that you don't need pharmacists in the Surgery, but more services to commissioned through the existing pharmacies to keep patients away from GPs, Hospitals/ A&E for certain ailments that can be easily assessed and treated in a Pharmacy.

jaya sai vamsi authunuri, Community pharmacist

please make GP's understand the value of their local pharmacist willing to work closely with them to reduce the increasing pressures in the first place then you can start thinking of employing them in a surgery

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