A National Pharmacy Association (NPA) report published last week (July 3) cited the “enormous potential” of a partnership between a GP practice and pharmacy in Sheffield (see below) allowing community pharmacists to read and annotate the practice’s patient records.
With funding from a government grant, more than 1,000 interventions were carried out at the community pharmacy using this record access in the nine months between October 2015 and June 2016, the NPA said in the report, with “every four minutes of pharmacist time saving approximately two minutes of GP time”.
“If every pharmacy were to provide just one day of clinical support to general practices each week, it would release in excess of 18 million GP appoints a year,” it argued.
Referring to NHS England’s ongoing drive to recruit pharmacists into GP practices, the NPA said this policy is “not the solution to the GP capacity crisis alone”. Instead, the model in its report “demonstrates that the community pharmacy team can provide care at scale, offering a cost-effective alternative or supplement” to NHS England’s current strategy.
How does the model work?
Garry Myers, owner of Basegreen Pharmacy and GP practice partner at Jaunty Springs Medical Centre in Sheffield, explained to C+D that the pharmacy and practice formed a legal partnership eight years ago. The pharmacy was first granted access to the practice’s clinical system the following year, after purchasing a GP practice laptop.
While his pharmacy has a “legal right to that information”, Mr Myers stressed that other community pharmacies “don’t need the legal structural integration that we’ve got in order to deliver this model”.
A four-hour session each week is allocated for the pharmacy to support the surgery, using read-write records access to: help with acute queries; sort repeat prescriptions; flag up errors; book appointments with a nurse or GP; and check through new medication.
“Once you have read-write access, you effectively become an extension of the practice – it’s as painfully simple as that,” Mr Myers said.
“The GPs can send messages to us and we can send messages to them, which pop up on our screen,” he explained. “We don’t even need to use a phone sometimes.”
Flack from NHS England
Mr Myers said he is expecting his pharmacy’s solution to draw criticism from NHS England, which may be concerned it “undermines their preferred model” of recruiting pharmacists into GP practices.
“We’re trying to present an alternative approach, because the NHS England [model] wouldn’t work for my practice,” he said. “[It] would be too costly and it wouldn’t give us the coverage that we’ve currently got.”
Pharmacies from London, the north-east and elsewhere in Yorkshire have all expressed interest in trialling the model, Mr Myers added.
Commenting on its report, NPA chair Nitin Sodha said: “It is time for NHS England to review this alternative model in more detail and ensure funding is allocated from the pharmacy integration programme to support the fuller deployment of the community pharmacy network.”