Employing pharmacists in GP surgeries must not be "the only model” for the two professions to work closer together, Pharmacy Voice has said.
The Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) and the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) announced plans last month to employ an “army” of pharmacists in surgeries, but Pharmacy Voice chair Claire Ward said this was just one option for the sector to consider.
It was important that the community pharmacy network was not “put at risk”, because pharmacies were more accessible than GP surgeries, she told C+D in an exclusive interview last week (April 10).
Ms Ward, a former Labour MP and Independent Pharmacy Federation chief executive, stressed that her experience in politics had taught her there was sometimes “a risk in chipping away at things” until a network was “undermined”. She gave the example of post offices as another network that had suffered by having its services offered in other locations.
“Yes, there’s a role for pharmacists in GP surgeries. But the most important thing to underline is that there’s a bigger role for pharmacy to work with GPs, and a lot of ways we can do that,” she said.
Contractors were split over whether the plans were a threat to the commissioning of pharmacy services when they were unveiled last month, and Ms Ward said she understood why some people were “fearful”. “We can’t have a situation where GPs are running the show,” she stressed.
Ms Ward was aware of some pharmacists who were considering relocating to a surgery, while others were considering employing an extra pharmacist to work closer with local GPs, she said. Pharmacy Voice would promote closer relationships between the two professions by supporting discussions between the sector and both GPs and NHS England, she added.
Last month, a federation of 30 London pharmacies sent a joint letter urging the RPS to "seriously think" about the consequences of its plans.