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Cardiology referral by GPs is soaring

Pharmacists are pushing for full access to the BNF without GP veto under Government plans to increase their prescribing powers radically.

Some pharmacists are suggesting they should have access to GP contract money as they push for a greater role in managing chronic disease.

The Department of Health has confirmed it will launch a formal consultation on independent prescribing for pharmacists in the next few weeks, with proposals likely to be enforced later this year.

Ash Soni, chair of the National Pharmaceutical Association, said: 'I personally think it should be the whole BNF. Otherwise it restricts what services can be provided.'

But he insisted GPs would still carry out the 'vast majority' of diagnoses, as this was not the pharmacist's role.

Beth Taylor, specialist principal pharmacist for London and the south-east, told Pulse pharmacists 'could be funded through practice monies'.

The calls came as new research raised serious questions over the effectiveness of home monitoring by pharmacists, likely to form a key part of any future chronic disease management role. Pharmacist reviews actually increased hospital admissions by 30 per cent and GP home visits by 43 per cent, according to the study, published online by the BMJ.

Dr Chaand Nagpaul, a GPC prescribing sub-committee member and GP in Harrow, Middlesex, said: 'I think the Government is trying to run before it can walk.'

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