The Scottish government has invested £16 million to recruit pharmacist prescribers to work alongside GPs.
The £16.2m fund was allocated to pay for up to 140 pharmacists with “advanced clinical skills” over the next three years, the Scottish government announced last week (July 25). They would be independent prescribers who would “work directly with practices to support the care of patients with long-term conditions and also free up GP time”, it said.
Alan McDevitt, chair of the British Medical Association’s Scottish GP committee, said recruiting more pharmacists to “work directly with GPs” would provide “much-needed support” for the profession.
“I hope that in the long term this investment could be extended so that every practice in Scotland would be able to have a practice-based pharmacist,” he added.
The government said the money - equivalent to almost £116,000 for each new pharmacist prescriber recruited - would come from a £50m fund to address “immediate workload and recruitment issues in the primary care workforce over the next three years".
The Royal Pharmaceutical Society in Scotland welcomed the news, which it said was “particularly encouraging in helping to improve access to pharmaceutical care”.
The society announced last Wednesday (July 23) that it “fully supported” placing more pharmacists in GP surgeries as part of “multidisciplinary primary care teams”. On the following day it added that it believed all GP practices “should have access to the expertise of a pharmacist”.
"Community pharmacy could be more cost-effective"
Community Pharmacy Scotland (CPS) said it "welcomed" the government's recognition that "pharmacists have a significant role to play in improved patient care". But CPS pharmacy services manager Matt Barclay stressed that the existing pharmacy contractor network could "provide much of the benefit" of the government's plans "in a cost-effective manner".
CPS planned to work with "primary care partners and the Scottish government to ensure that community pharmacy continues to be a significant part of the solution for patients", Mr Barclay told C+D.
The Scottish government’s 10-year vision for the sector - published in 2013 - included an aim to facilitate clinical pharmacist prescribers to work in partnership with GPs and other prescribers.