Following the recent joint Royal Pharmaceutical Society and Royal College of General Practitioners statement about the benefits of pharmacists working in GP practices, I was filled with excitement and optimism. We finally have some interprofessional recognition for the value of our skills and expertise.
This is a fantastic opportunity to develop our roles and deliver further enhanced clinical services to support better patient outcomes. It will also solve some of the issues facing the NHS, particularly around GP shortages, capacity issues and patients living longer with co-morbidities.
Although I can understand a degree of anxiety particularly from the community sector, I was dismayed to see some silo thinking and negative reactions to the statement. I am not looking through rose-tinted glasses, but we need to look at the bigger picture, work across sectors and see this as only the beginning.
We face various problems, particularly the potential oversupply of pharmacists, huge increases in MPharm students (with reduced chances of getting a pre-registration placement), overworking and less resources. There is also the threat that other providers bid for services we have traditionally provided.
We need to capitalise on this opportunity. I work in the primary care sector, leading a medicines management service for a clinical commissioning group. I have worked directly for GPs in practices and set up independent services, so I understand what commissioners need, how they work and how we can use our skills to support GP practices. I also work in the community sector as a locum and work with the Pharmacists’ Defence Association as a union representative and on the union executive. So I understand the issues facing individual pharmacists and working environments.
I share the vision that we can use this collaborative working with GPs to develop roles and deliver services across the profession. I am standing for the primary care sector seat on the English Pharmacy Board. However, I am committed to working for the profession. I will work to deliver the goal of providing services, such as long-term condition management clinics and extended services via GP practices and community pharmacies. I would like to see two pharmacists working in each community pharmacy becoming the norm, which will increase our roles, help address the oversupply issue, provide a professional career framework (particularly lacking in community), provide roles for new undergraduates and allow increased portfolio and cross sectoral working.
English Pharmacy Board
Royal Pharmaceutical Society