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Pharmacist management of hypertension could cut GP workload, study suggests

The majority of people starting a new antihypertensive medication could be supported by pharmacists without the need of seeing their GP again, a study of over 130,000 patients has suggested.

The research from the University of Oxford found that only 4.5% of patients who visited a pharmacist about their new treatment were referred to a GP, with many issues being dealt with directly by the pharmacist.

Researchers have said that training pharmacists for extended prescribing roles could cut GP consultations and reduce the workload for the ‘already overstretched general practice’.

The study, published in the BJGP, set out to understand what influences whether a patient is referred to a GP by a pharmacists after they start a new antihypertensive treatment.

The researchers said that while the burden of hypertension in primary care is high, and alternative models of care - such as pharmacist management - have shown promise, the data detailing the outcomes is lacking.

The team analysed 131,419 hypertension patients presenting to a community pharmacy in England with a newly prescribed antihypertensive medication, between 2011 and 2012.

They saw that a 'total of 5,895 patients (4.5%) were referred back by a pharmacist to a GP within the first two weeks of starting a new antihypertensive medication'.

And wrote: ‘Patients reporting side effects from their new medication were the most likely to be referred to their GP in this cohort of 131,419 patients. The likely responses from clinicians to the development of such side effects could include dose reductions or switching to alternative medications.

‘Pharmacists are highly trained in the use and management of medications, and so these changes are within their professional capacity. An extended prescribing role for community pharmacists could reduce referral of routine cases to an already overstretched general practice, but would require many to undertake further training.'

This follows the announcement that a pharmacist-led review will assess the multiple medications of 180,000 care home residents, in order to to reduce overmedication and cut hospital stays.

Parents have also been told to take their child to pharmacists instead of a GP for minor ailments, as part of a campaign to cut consultations.

Readers' comments (5)

  • UtterFool

    Destroying continuity or care, fragmenting services, confusing patients and privatising hypertension In one motion. Wonderful.

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  • Highly trained in the use and management of medications, really?
    They make a song and dance of treating a simple uti, God help us with multi-morbid hypertensives. Yet again underskilled staff being deployed ‘cheaply’ with an algorithm and a profusion of guidance.

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  • I wish they’d stop trying to remove/delegate/fragment parts of the job we should be doing and relieve us of the non-GP/non-doctor stuff instead. Why not ask us which part of our workload we’d benefit from passing elsewhere and work on achieving that?

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  • How do babylon do it ?

    How does the Minister get his blood pressure checked ?

    If they do everything online, are the patients checking their own bp or is the pharmacist doing it ?

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  • Welcome to the future of Primary Care ......cheaper noctors replacing expensive doctors.
    Until they realise it’s a false economy, but then it will be too late.

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