The Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) has welcomed news that a new west London medical centre could become the first practice to be led by pharmacists.
Heidi Wright, practice and policy lead for RPS England, described the model as “innovative” and said the organisation welcomed the collaborative approach being put into practice.
“We have long campaigned for pharmacists to be part of the GP practice team as they have so much to offer patients and colleagues.
“It’s good to see this is now recognised by the NHS and this particular practice using the skills and knowledge of pharmacists to provide direct patient care,” she said.
The practice, which is based in Isleworth, west London, is managed by Argyle Health Group (AHG). A recruitment advertisement posted by AHG seeking pharmacists to work at the practice, said that pharmacists will “take responsibility for repeat management and safe, effective prescribing. A key role in triage and management of common ailments is anticipated”.
AHG described the Isleworth practice as an “innovative, pharmacy-led, general practice model”. They have invited applications from “highly experienced clinical pharmacists”, including generalist pharmacist practitioners and those with expertise in respiratory, cardiac and diabetes management.
In a statement, AHG said that they were seeking to diversify their staffing skills mix in the national context of a shortage of suitably qualified GPs and practice nurses. According to AHG, this move is in response to “current demand on primary care to improve access, diversify its service offering and to successfully deliver on the GP Forward View”.
As part of the General Practice Forward View, NHS England has promised to increase the number of pharmacists working in GP practices to more than 1,300 by March 2019. In support of this, earlier this year, the NHS announced a further £112m in funding and invited practices to apply for funding to help recruit and train pharmacists to take on these roles. This followed a £31m NHS pilot study launched in 2015, which supported the placement of 403 pharmacists in general practice across England.
The pilot study was announced following a joint initiative by the RPS and the Royal College of GPs to increase the number of independent prescribers within GP surgeries.
“Those pharmacists who have worked in general practice for some time have blazed a trail and highlighted the skills and knowledge of pharmacists and how these can be utilised in general practice”, said Sandra Gidley, chair of the RPS English Pharmacy Board.
Describing the AHG’s pharmacist-led approach as “an interesting model”, Gidley added that patients benefit from all members of the primary health care team working more closely together and welcomed any development which makes greater use of pharmacists’ skills.