Patients across England are set to benefit from more convenient trips to the GP with the announcement by NHS England of new, surgery-based clinical pharmacists to help with routine medication and treatment.
Over 700 more practices in England will benefit from having a pharmacist located in their GP surgery covering up to six-million patients and helping to free up GP time.
Dr Arvind Madan, GP and NHS England Director of Primary Care, suggested that the initiative will have a positive impact on both patients and healthcare professionals.
“The clinical pharmacist programme is a clear win-win for patients and GPs. The pilots have shown GP workload to be eased while patients have the convenience of being seen by the right professional in a more timely way. The expansion of the programme today is great news for everyone.”
Norwich is one area that is already benefiting from the programme, with three clinical pharmacists working across five GP practices in the city and are pro-actively helping patients stay safe and well and out of hospital, as well as support busy GPs and practice nurses.
John Higgins, who works from Norwich Practices Health Centre, believes that the programme is already heading in the right direction.
“It has been a big success so far. One of the major successes is that patients enjoy seeing us face-to-face; they ring to thank us afterwards. If a GP is unsure about anything they can send me a note and I will do the prescription via the electronic prescription service within ten minutes.”
As well as prescribing, clinical pharmacists undertake medicine reviews, help manage discharge of people from hospitals to make sure they are taking the right medicines in the right dose and identify patients who might need ongoing support to stay safe and well.
And as part of NHS England’s sweeping measures to support general practice and give patients more convenient access to care with over £100 million of investment supporting an extra 1,500 clinical pharmacists to work in general practice by 2020/21.
This is in addition to over 490 clinical pharmacists already working across approximately 650 GP practices as part of a pilot, launched in July 2015.
NHS England, Health Education England, the Royal College of General Practitioners and the British Medical Association’s GP Committee are working with the Royal Pharmaceutical Society to support the programme roll out.