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Working in GP practices: let’s get this right

I have been following with interest recent correspondence and media activity on pharmacists working in GP practices.

The communication at the launch and thereafter failed to get across the true intent of this initiative, resulting in widening divisions within the profession rather than creating a platform to unite all sectors. Since then, I have had discussions with a number of senior stakeholders to express my concerns but also to understand what could be done better. I have noted a change in the language used and more clarity of purpose in recent presentations.

If done right, I do not see this as a threat to any sector, but as an opportunity to take the profession to another level. I have long sought for other healthcare professionals to work closer with me when practising. It took time and effort to build relationships, professional credibility and mutual respect but it made a difference to my professional role and my business but, most importantly, to patients. Having a pharmacist working within a GP practice — not for GPs but with GPs, and not cost-down medicines management but patient-centred value-up medicines optimisation — should make this joined-up working easier to facilitate and enhance the opportunities for the community pharmacy.

There is no reason why this role could not be filled by a pharmacist (funded appropriately by the practice/NHS) from community pharmacy or a permanent position. The key would be the right character, mindset, capabilities and role which must include joined-up inter-professional and intra-professional working and good governance.

In addition, we should increase efforts for additional pharmaceutical care and well-being services within community pharmacy to leverage the skills and intervention opportunities that most people often choose as a point of access to healthcare. This should be part of joined-up individual and population care across health, public health and social care systems.

If we all work on this together, get the plan and implementation right, put aside egos and kudos, eliminate historical hierarchical myths and prejudices, we can make this work for everyone. In my experience, doing the right thing with the right people gets the right results, including recognition and rewards.


Michael Holden

Election candidate

English Pharmacy Board

Royal Pharmaceutical Society 

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal DOI: 10.1211/PJ.2015.20068440

Readers' comments (2)

  • As someone who campaigns actively for patients and their right to choice I welcome this position from the pharmacy profession.
    The value of the pharmacists skills to improve the wellbeing of patients is undoubted but for far too long they have focussed on the commercial interests and a system geared around the number of items dispensed not the quality of the advice or the ability or compliance of patients to take medicines in the most effective way.
    I have seen far too many cupboards full of repeat prescription drugs which tells me patients are not getting the benefit of the pharmacists knowledge and the NHS budget it loosing out.

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  • Robert,
    I've been involved in a project focusing on supporting patients in their homes with their medication issues. Early results are showing that the practice and patients really value the savings and that the pharmacists and pharmacy technicians are making a significant contributions to improving medication management and optimisation.

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