A programme designed to increase collaboration between community pharmacists and GPs has deployed a pharmacist in all but two of a city’s GP surgeries.
The Primary Care Pharmacy Programme scheme in Sheffield has led to pharmacists working for one half-day per week in 86 of 88 GP surgeries in the city, according to a study of the programme published in the British Journal of General Practice (17 October 2018).
Of the 86 GP surgeries participating in the scheme, 9 had gone on to employ a pharmacist on a permanent basis.
Researchers from the University of Bradford, NHS Sheffield Clinical Commissioning Group and other organisations said the Sheffield scheme was the first of its kind to achieve “almost universal uptake by GPs throughout a large city”.
The researchers found that although community pharmacy contracting and backfill arrangements were sometimes complicated, the development of closer relationships between pharmacists and practice staff “appeared to help the extension of initially agreed roles, including transition from ‘backroom’ to patient-facing clinical work”.
The study also found that community pharmacists gained understanding of GP processes and patients’ primary care pathway, “allowing them to follow up work at the community pharmacy in a more timely way, positively impacting on patients’ and healthcare professionals’ perceived delivery of care”.
An independent evaluation of NHS England’s Clinical Pharmacists in GP Practices scheme, published in July 2018, found that pharmacists working in GP surgeries increased GP capacity, optimised medicines use and improved patient quality of life. However, it warned that GPs’ expectations of the role of GP pharmacists needed to be managed to reduce misunderstandings.