Pharmacist prescribing support releases GP capacity, Scottish project shows

Time GPs spent on special requests, immediate discharges, outpatient requests and other medicines issues was reduced by 51% following a pilot project involving 16 GP surgeries across Inverclyde, Scotland

Doctor handling paperwork

Support from specially trained pharmacy staff in prescribing activities could free up GPs’ time and capacity, results from a pilot project in Scotland have shown.

The ‘New ways of working’ (nWOW) pilot involved 16 urban GP surgeries within the Inverclyde Health and Social Care Partnership that received additional support from specialist pharmacists and pharmacy technicians between April 2016 and March 2017.

Support was provided in four prescribing activities: special requests; immediate discharges; outpatient requests; and other medicines issues.

As a result, the time GPs spent addressing these activities was significantly reduced by 51% per week (79 hours), equating to 4.9 hours per week per practice.

Survey feedback from GP staff showed that the majority of respondents had a positive experience and suggested that the intervention may improve prescribing safety, staff morale and reduce stress.

Reporting their findings in the British Journal of General Practice (online, 27 September 2018)[1]
, the authors said: “Specialist clinical pharmacists are safe and effective in supporting GPs and practices with key prescribing activities in order to directly free GP capacity.”

They added that additional research will be needed to assess the impact of nWOW on prescribing cost efficiency and clinical pharmacist medication review work.


[1] Maskrey M, Johnson C, Cormack J et al. Releasing GP capacity with pharmacy prescribing support and New Ways of Working: a prospective observational cohort study. Br J Gen Pract 2018;68:e735–e742. doi: 10.3399/bjgp18X699137

Last updated
Clinical Pharmacist, CP, November 2018, Vol 10, No 11;10(11):DOI:10.1211/PJ.2018.20205659

You may also be interested in