NHS Alliance finds 5.5% of GP appointments could be dealt with by a pharmacist

The emerging role of clinical pharmacists working in GP practices to help reduce GP workload and improve patient care has been given a boost after a new report estimates 5.5% of family doctor appointments could be dealt with by a pharmacist instead.

The ‘Making Time in General Practice’ report says that 27% of GP appointments could be avoided if they were taken on by other professionals, if there was closer coordination between GPs and hospitals, more streamlined administration and better use of IT.

The report, by the NHS Alliance and the Primary Care Foundation, specifically highlights the contribution that practice pharmacists can make but warns that their full potential can only be realised if GPs understand the range of skills they bring.

“There is an immediate opportunity for practices to review their current skill mix and consider the employment of a pharmacist within the practice,” writes Mark Robinson, pharmacy lead for the NHS Alliance, in an appendix to the report. “There is also a danger of considering the role in the narrow context of reducing GP workload rather than improving the quality of care.”

The report comes just three months after NHS England announced a £15m pilot project to test the role of practice pharmacists to help meet the aims of its ‘Five year forward view’ and reduce GP workload.

The pilot runs from 2015 until 2018 and will create around 250 practice pharmacist posts. It was launched four months after the Royal Pharmaceutical Society and the Royal College of GPs jointly called for greater use of pharmacist skills in general practice.

Last updated
The Pharmaceutical Journal, PJ, October 2015, Vol 295, No 7882;295(7882):DOI:10.1211/PJ.2015.20069487

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