GP practices in England will employ around 300 pharmacists to provide clinical care in a £15m pilot, NHS England has announced.
NHS England will subsidise practices to employ pharmacists in patient-facing roles, with responsibilities including monitoring patients with long-term conditions, creating medicine plans and providing advice and expertise on day-to-day medicines issues.
The pilot will start in 2015 and run until 2018. Pharmacists will be recruited in areas where GPs are under the greatest pressure due to workload.
NHS England says the project will integrate pharmacists into the general practice team to give patients extra support around pharmaceutical care and reduce the workload burden on GPs. It will fund 60% of pharmacists’ salary costs in year one, 40% in year two and 20% in year three.
“Tapping into the skills of clinical pharmacists should help expand care and relieve some of the pressure that GPs are clearly under,” says Simon Stevens, NHS England chief executive. ”This isn’t a silver bullet but it is a practical and constructive contribution to the wider challenge.”
Sandra Gidley, chair of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society’s (RPS) English Pharmacy Board, says: “This substantial investment by NHS England shows the confidence the NHS has in the pharmacy profession to deliver direct patient care.”
Maureen Baker, chair of the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP), says the scheme could have a “major impact” on patient care and safety and reduce GP appointment waiting times.
In March 2015, the RPS and the RCGP jointly called for greater use of pharmacists’ clinical skills in general practice.