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Gold, incentives and meh

Same-day pharmacy appointments could help tackle GP pressures, says RCGP

A move that will see patients with minor conditions offered same-day consultations at their local pharmacy could help relieve GP pressures, the RCGP has said. 

As part of the new five-year funding settlement for community pharmacy, announced by the Government yesterday, patients calling NHS 111 about a minor issue such as a sore throat or earache could be referred for a same-day consultation with their pharmacist from October. 

RCGP chair Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard said the service could help address the pressures facing GPs, but warned that it should not be seen as a 'silver bullet'.

The Government said the new scheme, for which pharmacies will receive £14 per consultation, could see millions of appointments delivered in pharmacies, 'relieving pressure on the wider NHS'. If successful, the scheme could result in GPs and A&E referring patients to the service within the next five years. 

It is estimated that up to 20 million GP appointments per year - or 6% of all GP consultations - could 'safely' take place in a pharmacy, the Government said.  

Professor Stokes-Lampard said: 'Introducing a greater variety of roles into the general practice team and making the best possible use of primary care professionals in the community is key to helping relieve the intense resource and workforce pressures facing GPs, and ultimately ensuring our patients get the care they need when they need it.

'Pharmacists are highly-trained healthcare professionals who already advise patients with a host of minor illnesses that don't necessarily need the input of a GP, recommend suitable over-the-counter medication and self-care treatments, and play an important role in medication management on a daily basis. In doing so, they are vital to delivering patient care in the community and alleviating pressures in general practice.'

But she warned the service is not a 'silver bullet' to tackle the existing issues in primary care. 

She said: 'However, whilst this new scheme is welcome, it is not a silver bullet to addressing the pressures in primary care. Pharmacists – or any other primary care professional – must not be seen as substitutes for GPs, so efforts to recruit more family doctors, retain the existing GP workforce, and make it easier to return to practice after a career break or period working abroad must continue and be redoubled.'

However, recent research found that many GPs ignore pharmacists' advice because it is 'unlikely to benefit' patients

Official data has shown that four in 10 patients obtain a GP appointment booked on the same day, while 5% have to wait for a month to see their GP.

As part of the new five-year GP contract, released in January by the BMA and NHS England, practices who join a primary care networks will be provided with 70% of the funding required to employ pharmacists, in a move to bring 22,000 additional practice staff into the workforce.

Readers' comments (12)

  • All these schemes do is reinforce the belief that expert help is needed for all sorts of trivia. Pharmacists love them because they get to flog a bottle of expensive but useless woo which doesn't help, and the punter then ends up with the GP a day or two later.

    That the RCGP has no idea what happens in the World the rest of us inhabit is, of course, no suprise whatsoever.

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  • All pretty succinct from Stelvio I feel.

    The new Standard Operating Procedure will become see Pharmacist, sold some "jollop," doesn't work, see GP oh darn its the W/E now so go to A/E!

    But not as good as 111: 102 year old male lots of co-morbidity recently discharged with urosepsis, difficult re-catheterised that AM, brisk frank haematuria followed strangely not helped by the newly prescribed NOAC, advised speak to GP within 2 hours.

    Just take me to Switzerland when need arises!

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  • Hopefully they will run a fibromyalgia clinic

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  • yet again more access more use and then half will be told to see GP yet again increasing the burden on GPs When will they realise increasing access increases workload !

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  • Just a suggestion , why not make being a GP more attractive and then you would be able to train and retain more ???

    As far as I am aware pharmacist aren't trained to diagnose .No diagnosis = no management plan = high risk = see your Gp .

    Have any pilot studies been done to see how many sore throats / coughs / rashes / insect bites initially seen by a pharmacist dont consult a GP for the same episode ?? if so would make an intetesting read . if not why are we investing £14 a consult. I would gladly see 1st presentation minor trivia for £84 / hr before the patients have been given unrealistic expectations by someone else.

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  • Just another sticking plaster for the lack of doctors. I think the impact these schemes have is often less than expected. It removes a small percentage of easy to handle appts and just leaves the complex, lengthy appts being squeezed into long clinics full of 10 minute appointments that end up taking about 30! The two main issues (lack of doctors and increasingly elderly frail complex patients) are totally ignored.

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  • if they refer to us why are we not given a payment as well. seems very unfair

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  • So are they going to keep notes and be liable medicolegally for their decisions. It must be high risk stuff.

    This will not help in any way and increase workload. More GP's are needed.

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  • It won't. The pharmacist will say see your GP.

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  • Too right, 12,19. The quick sore throats and coughs will be gone meaning that the ultra complex patients will be back to back in 10 minute appointments with no prospect of catching up!

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  • Usual Ivory Tower stuff

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  • Nope won't work unless the Pharmacists are in GP, in a shop they will revert to type. There is a fundemental inducement to prescribe linked to profits.

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