A scheme to send pharmacists into every GP practice in Sheffield for one day a week will receive government funding after a successful pilot.
GPs will use part of their £9.7 million allocation from the Prime Minister's Challenge Fund to expand a pilot scheme placing community pharmacists into each of the city’s 87 practices, Sheffield clinical commissioning group (CCG) head of medicines management Peter Magirr told C+D yesterday (September 1).
The money was awarded in March to create “wrap-around services” to support Sheffield's GPs. Making better use of community pharmacists had been an “important component” of the bid for the government money, which will also be used to provide seven-day access to practices, Mr Magirr said.
“The community pharmacist shares the same population as the GP, but [knows] them from a different perspective. When you put the two together, you can provide holistic care for the patient,” he said.
Mr Magirr stressed that the project is different to NHS England’s plans to fund full-time clinical pharmacists in selected pilot sites because it is focused on “releasing” pharmacists into every practice in a single region for one day a week.
The scheme provides a “real opportunity” to increase medicines optimisation across Sheffield, he added.
Raising pharmacy's profile
The pilot initiative ran across four sites in Sheffield between December 2014 and April 2015. In its evaluation, Sheffield CCG said the pilot had “raised the profile of community pharmacy as part of the primary care team” and demonstrated that closer working arrangements between pharmacists and GPs enhanced patient care.
Community pharmacists took on different tasks during the pilot, including medication reviews, blood pressure checks and prescribing advice.
The CCG said in March that the government funding will also be used to improve communication between GP practices and the wider health and social care system. “This will be facilitated by making sure various clinical IT systems are better connected,” the CCG said at the time.