“Clinical” pharmacists will provide the “focal point” of new PCNs – groups of local GP practices covering an average of 50,000 people – from next month, and community pharmacies are expected to work with these professionals to help realise the NHS long-term plan, Dr Keith Ridge said last Friday (June 7).
Presenting at the Clinical Pharmacy Congress in London, Dr Ridge reiterated that “clinical” pharmacists will be “a central part” of multiprofessional teams across PCNs, but stressed that “all pharmacists and pharmacy technicians” have a role in supporting patients.
Community pharmacy teams “deliver consistent, high-quality minor illness care and support the public to live healthier lives”, Dr Ridge said in his presentation, but stressed they “have capacity to deliver more clinical care”.
From July, community pharmacy “will focus more on its clinical role managing the minor illness aspects of urgent care and supporting patients to prevent ill health”, he explained, using the examples of cardiovascular disease detection and “prevention awareness of cancer symptoms”.
Community sector supplying "clinical" pharmacists
Dr Ridge added: “Some community pharmacists could be recruited to work in PCN ‘clinical’ pharmacist roles, for which they would need to do the additional 18-month training and which would not involve dispensing.”
These “clinical” pharmacists – who will act as the conduit between different pharmacy providers, including community, hospital and mental health – will be supported with a new ‘primary care pharmacy education pathway’ to support them to become independent prescribers, undertake structured medication reviews and run practice clinics.
Practice pharmacists are already preparing to play a key role in some PCNs, with Graham Stretch, chief pharmacist at Argyle Health Group, and Helen Kilminster, pharmacist at The Surgery in Birmingham, and head of clinical services at primary care services company Firza Group, both appointed clinical directors of their local PCNs.