Pharmacists are not a threat to GPs

I found GP Clare Gerada’s view on pharmacists archaic (
The Pharmaceutical Journal 2015;294:208
). Is the role of the pharmacist not constantly evolving? At least I thought it was. Pharmacists will never be able to step up as long as there are GPs like Gerada around.

I was blown away by the statement: “If there is a patient on 15 medicines, pharmacists aren’t going to stop any of them because where would they start?” That may be because legally we cannot stop medicines, but we are certainly equipped to advise on which medicines to stop and exactly how to do it, which drugs are prescribed to treat side effects of others and which drugs should be withdrawn gradually, etc.

Perhaps if GPs were more open minded about what advice pharmacists have to offer then we would achieve more with our collaboration. When I worked in community pharmacy I often approached GPs about inadequate antibiotic doses in children, therapy duplication and excessive doses in the elderly. The responses from GPs were, sadly, often not positive.

Moreover, for Gerada to blame hospital doctors for bad prescribing is a total cop out. My experience is that GPs treat patients (and prescribe) acutely and they do not look at the bigger picture. If GPs cannot challenge hospital doctors on their prescribing behaviour then how can community pharmacists challenge GPs? GPs may “have their fingers on the nation’s pulse” yet they struggle to embrace the concept of seamless care and collaborative care.

So instead of criticising pharmacists for not doing a job they are not free to do, GPs should support us in our knowledge base and allow us to improve medicines management. We are not a threat to GPs, we are healthcare professionals in our own right.


Angela Smith

Brisbane, Australia

Last updated
The Pharmaceutical Journal, PJ, 18 April 2015, Vol 294, No 7858;294(7858):DOI:10.1211/PJ.2015.20068183

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