A pharmacist should work in every GP practice in England to offer specialist medicines advice and support to patients and take pressure off family doctors, according to a joint proposal announced by the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) and the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP).
The pharmacist would be part of the practice-based primary care team able to resolve medicines issues, especially for patients with long-term conditions. He or she would also be the practice’s link to care homes, according to the plan unveiled at a joint summit held by the RPS and RCGP in London on 17 March 2015.
“This isn’t about having a pharmacy premises within a surgery, but about making the full use of the pharmacist’s clinical skills to help patients and the overworked GP workforce,” says RCGP chair Maureen Baker, adding that the “hidden army of highly-trained pharmacists” could provide the solution to the national shortage of family doctors and the continuing rise in GP consultations, which is projected to reach 370 million in 2015.
Chair of the RPS English Pharmacy Board David Branford describes the proposal as a “win-win situation for everyone concerned”, pointing out that pharmacists can help reduce prescribing errors and resolve issues with prescriptions as well as help patients with medicines management in their own homes.
“The NHS simply can’t afford to wait any longer to create the capacity in the system,” he says. “We must be more strategic and change the services on offer to make the best use of the NHS workforce.”