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Pharmacists in Scotland join calls for profession to work in GP practices

Society “fully supports” more pharmacists in patient-facing roles within GP surgeries in Scotland.

All general practices in Scotland should involve pharmacists in direct patient care and make greater links with community pharmacies, says the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) in Scotland. In the image, patients in a GP surgery waiting to see a doctor

Source: Sally and Richard Greenhill / Alamy

RPS Scotland says patients in GP practices should benefit from pharmacists’ expertise

All general practices in Scotland should involve pharmacists in direct patient care and make greater links with community pharmacies, according to the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) in Scotland.

RPS Scotland says it fully supports more pharmacists working in GP surgeries, a proposal at the centre of a recent joint campaign between the RPS in England and the Royal College of General Practitioners.

It comes as the Scottish government announced £16.2m in new funding for up to 140 independent prescribers to work with GP practices to support patients with chronic conditions. RPS director for Scotland Alex MacKinnon said the move, part of a £50m investment in primary care to address workload and recruitment issues, was welcome news and particularly encouraging in helping to improve access to pharmaceutical care”.

In a position statement [PDF], the RPS in Scotland said every GP practice in the nation would benefit from the expertise of pharmacists in patient-facing roles within the surgeries, helping in governance and decision-making about pharmaceutical care.

A small number of pharmacists have been successfully working in general practices for many years but it is now recognised that much more could be achieved for patient care if the two professions worked more closely, the RPS said. Practice-based roles will require flexibility depending on local needs; positions could be sessional or full-time and include generalist and specialist input from primary care, community or secondary care pharmacists. Some pharmacists could be employed directly by the NHS to work in local practices.

The Society said all practice-based roles “should be autonomous” with an “agreed caseload of patients”, focused on gaps in care where the specific skills of the pharmacist will improve pharmaceutical care.

It added that close working between practices and community pharmacies was “essential” and practice-based pharmacists should facilitate this. In some cases community pharmacies could, with access to patient health records, provide a similar role to the practice-based pharmacists.

‘Community pharmacist input crucial’

John McAnaw, chair of the Scottish Pharmacy Board, said the move would help integrate pharmacists into the wider primary care team, and was in line with the ambitions of the ‘Prescription for Excellence’ project to develop pharmaceutical care in Scotland. “Our patients have always been promised continuity of pharmaceutical care, and the wider introduction of patient-facing GP practice pharmacists can be the springboard to further developing this at the local level,” he says.

Community pharmacist and board vice-chair Jonathan Burton says: “Such arrangements will undoubtedly increase the capacity of pharmacy as a profession to positively influence patient care. However, we also believe that as part of the solution it is absolutely crucial to recognise and further encourage the outstanding contribution the nation’s network of community pharmacists make to patient care in local communities.”

In the statement, RPS Scotland said future GP and community pharmacy contracts should be aligned “to capitalise on the complementary skill sets of both professions, to avoid duplication of effort and to streamline patient journeys”.

“Adequate resourcing is required to free up pharmacist time for pharmaceutical care, as are changes to remote supervision and contractual arrangements to allow more participation in joint learning, practice team meetings and for the provision of professional input and advice,” the Society said.

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal DOI: 10.1211/PJ.2015.20068835

Readers' comments (1)

  • Can the Scottish pharmacist representatives guarantee funds for more than one year because experience shows that G.P.'s rarely are prepared to pay for any extra services for patients from their own surgery income.
    Lets hope the spokesperson from "The Society" starts to "get real" with the NHS economics before promoting his or wish list concerning the future role of pharmacists in The NHS

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

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