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GPs go forth

NHS England 'should align' GP and pharmacy contracts, pressure groups suggest

GP and community pharmacy contracts need to be ‘aligned’ if plans for pharmacists to take workload off GPs are to be realised, the National Association of Primary Care (NAPC) has suggested.

Together with the Royal Pharmaceutical Society, the organisation has launched a consultation to gauge the views of the professions on a number of proposals including new contractual levers to encourage joint caring for patients.

Proposals include making making community pharmacists the main access point for patients with minor self-limiting conditions and the setting up of a ‘joint population health framework’ that would reward pharmacists for things like identifying patients with long-term conditions and managing these jointly with their GP.

The groups also suggest giving pharmacists access to patient records where the patient has requested it.

The consultation document, which comes after NHS England announced last month that it will invest £15m to recruit clinical pharmacists to work in GP practices, said NHS England should now ‘make clear’ its intention to drive joint working between GP practices and pharmacies by taking the ‘opportunity to align services and incentives in a way that delivers patient benefit’ rather than the current structure of ‘being competitive’.

The document said: ‘[T]his would be a helpful signal to both professions about their future role.’

Dr Nav Chana, chair of the NAPC said: ‘The opportunities for greater collaboration could have a big impact on the workload pressure for general practice and hence the importance of this consultation at this time.’

Sandra Gidley RPS Board chair said: ’If we are to move away from the treadmill of dispensing to a role where our clinical skills are recognised and valued by the public then the payment structures we currently work under will need to change. These proposals are designed to test the appetite for that.’

GPs can respond to the NAPC and Royal Pharmaceutical Society consultation by filling out a response form and emailing it to

Readers' comments (22)

  • I await the onslaught of negativity...

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  • No need, one simple remark - if pharmacists want to act like dr's, take the responsibility and deal with the patient, don't just take the money and dump the patient back onto the local GP after you have taken the fee for service. I await the denial.....

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  • That's like criticising GP's for referring to consultants. It's our job to do that rather than bluffing.

    We don't get paid for patients coming in to ask us advice. We don't get paid for all of the patients on our books either!

    I await the deflection...

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  • We don't always like referring patients back to the GP. Sometimes we have to because the treatment that is needed is 'prescription only'.

    This is not the fault of the pharmacist as it's very frustrating to be able to clearly see what a patient needs, but be unable to provide it.

    I for one, do not wish to be a doctor, and feel that I have more than enough work to do. We are asked to carry out these new roles as those currently trying to provide them are under pressure. Forget about the money, it's about the patient.

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  • A word of warning to our green biro wielding brethren. "Align contracts" is Newspeak for paying the same for the same, and given that GP practices typically deliver most items of service for comparative buttons, (take influenza vaccines or medication reviews as examples) be prepared for your balance sheet to be aligned downwards, sharply. Still, you could always align yourselves and train as GPs. We should be very wary at being encouraged to eat each other's rations.

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  • Can we start selling shampoo and condoms?

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  • cough medicine , cough medicine, cough medicine and of course homeopathy and Bach flower remedy

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  • Selling shampoo or birth control doesn't affect the quality of my advice. Much like a GP working from a ramshackle old house is still either a good or bad doctor!

    I don't sell homeopathy, but I do on occasion get a prescription for it.

    If GP's remembered all the times a pharmacist saved themselves from an error then we might not have these snooty remarks. But maybe they don't realise as we resolve their mistake with the prescription clerk and the corrected prescription is waved under their nose to be blindly signed.

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  • I fully support the proposal.... Pharmacists are highly qualified healthcare professionals and so are GPS.I work in collaboration with my GP colleagues and I see how the combination can work. But the current payment structure doesn't support this collaboration. Thanks NHS England to come to rescue of my profession which is at present not properly utilize creating dispensing robots rather than professionals. Let learn from each other for the benefit of our patients.

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  • What ever the pros and cons of this idea, be under no illusion the primary reason it's being suggested is an attempt to save money.

    The bottom line here is there will be less money coming into the system...dress it up as you's about reducing funding to primary care...that's less funding for GPs and making pharmacists work harder for their share of a diminishing pie.

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