The use of pharmacists in assessing trainee GP prescribing skills could improve prescribing safety and encourage interprofessional learning and staff relationships, a study has revealed.
Writing in Education for Primary Care, researchers noted that a scheme introduced by NHS Education for Scotland (NES) “has highlighted the benefit pharmacists can make” in assessing and providing feedback on prescribing to GP trainees.
The study looked at more than 50 practice pharmacists who carried out workplace-based assessments on prescribing with a trainee GP in their practice — a mandatory component for final-year GPs that was introduced in 2019 by the Royal College of GPs.
First, the pharmacists led training sessions to assess the trainee GPs, including mock scenarios around consultations and diagnoses, prescriptions (including acute and repeat medicines) and prescribing errors.
Focus groups were then held, which revealed that that all participants felt it was a helpful way to learn more about each other’s roles and improve working relationships.
GP trainees also reported that the training sessions helped to improve their prescribing skills and learn to trust the expertise of their pharmacy colleagues. They also said that the approach helped improve prescribing safety through discussing real-life cases.
Several GPs overseeing the trainees also noted that the pharmacists helped identify prescribing issues that they themselves would not have brought up.
The researchers found that having the pharmacist involved in the assessment helped to identify “bad habits” that may be ingrained among GPs in the practice, which helped trainees gain a “broader learning experience”.
The initiative also provided an opportunity to promote greater interprofessional learning among the future GPs and pharmacists, enabling them to reflect on how they might work best together.
Those at NES evaluating the scheme did note there were some perceived barriers to pharmacists doing the trainee GP prescribing assessment, including workload and time pressures, as well as those taking part not knowing each other well.
“Involving pharmacists in the prescribing review improved the GP trainees’ understanding of different professional roles in the primary healthcare team, encouraged collaborative working, and enhanced prescribing safety,” the NES team concluded.
“Participants valued the opportunity to strengthen cooperation with colleagues for the future with the shared goal of improving prescribing.”