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Where is the funding for GP practice pharmacists?

"GPs anticipating a pharmacy cavalry will ride to our rescue are likely to be disappointed"

The promise of funding is great... until you try to get hold of it, says Dr Messenger

Sorry to bang on about NHS England’s GP Forward View again. But if you had been told that this was the magic potion concocted to resurrect a profession in its death throes, then you’d want to keep stirring the cauldron, wouldn’t you?

Which is exactly what we’ve been doing. Specifically, we’ve been dissecting out the detail of the Forward View strategy document to define and digest the various pots of money promised.

And that’s no mean feat. Jeremy Hunt has suddenly found enough dosh down the back of his sofa to stump up considerable sums to prop up vulnerable practices, to fund training for practice managers, nurses and receptionists, to sweeten service charge-hikes, to enhance the GP retainer scheme – plus much, much more.

Fantastic. Until you phone or email your clinical commissioning group or local area team, that is, to make polite enquiries about where all this treasure is buried, at which point you’re met with a shrug of the shoulders. No one knows where it is, nor when it might be available, nor how you might go about applying for it.

All of which is precisely echoed by recent stories about enhanced funding for pharmacists to join the practice pharmacist pilot – another pot of gold ‘promised’ in the GP Forward View. Despite the suggestion that this is a “new offer to every practice in the country to access a clinical pharmacist”, any GPs anticipating that a pharmacy cavalry is about to ride over the horizon to our rescue is likely to be disappointed.

According to C+D’s report last week, the process hasn’t started yet, and it’s not clear what it will look like when it does. Besides, NHS England wants to “reflect” on the original pilot first. Then it will be able to provide practices with clinical pharmacist support “in some form”.

You have got to hand it to NHS England, when it comes to making vague pronouncements and bamboozling us with obfuscation, they really get the job done. Otherwise, they don’t. For all I know, “being able to access a clinical pharmacist” may just mean that I’ll be able to pop down for some paracetamol to treat the tension headache all this is giving me.

And as for the Forward View being a magic potion – smoke and mirrors, more like.

1 Comments

Kevin Western, Community pharmacist

well now, I thought, and correct me if i am wrong, that surgeries were short of GPs, and pharmacists were there at least in part to pick up some of the workload. If that is the case then the surgery is saving a GP salary and, not wanting to sound envious, that is loads more than a Pharmacist, so the money is there, so where is it going if not on the Pharmacist? I understand wanting to make NHSE pay up - good luck with that... but I'm sure there is sufficient funding if you really want to make it available...

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