GP practices in areas with high levels of deprivation, multiple morbidities or polypharmacy will receive funding to employ a pharmacist prescriber as a priority, the Scottish government has revealed.
The government would work with health boards to identify practices most in need of a pharmacist and monitor their impact through an evaluation, which would inform future decisions, it told C+D on Friday (July 3).
The strategy forms part of the plans announced by the Scottish government last month to train 140 pharmacists for employment in surgeries over three years. Under the proposals, over £16 million of funding will be earmarked for health boards to recruit pharmacists with "advanced clinical skills" to work directly with GPs.
Wigtownshire pharmacist contractor Fiona McElrea said the priority areas for the scheme were "ideal". “Polypharmacy and deprivation go hand in hand,” Ms McElrea said. “Lots of areas tick both boxes. The thinking behind it is quite good.”
But Ms McElrea cast doubts over the need to train more pharmacists in independent prescribing and clinical skills to fill the surgery role. The government needed to “think about utilising the pharmacists they have already before training up more”, she said.
“There are lots of pharmacists who have independent prescribing qualifications but are not using them,” she said. “I think the government will look at using these people first without putting others through the training.”
The government plans to work with National Education for Scotland (NES) Pharmacy, the medical schools, schools of pharmacy and health boards to train up pharmacists to deliver the plans.
In June, Community Pharmacy Scotland said it “welcomed” the government’s recognition that pharmacists have a “significant role to play in patient care” but emphasised that the existing pharmacy network could provide benefit to patients in a “cost-effective manner”.