This site is intended for health professionals only

At the heart of general practice since 1960

pul jul aug2020 cover 80x101px
Read the latest issue online

Independents' Day

700 GP practices to employ clinical pharmacists as NHS pilot expands

NHS England has doubled the funding available for its national pilot of clinical pharmacists in general practice, meaning 700 practices will benefit from a share of the £31m fund.

The significant expansion of the scheme, first announced in July, is due to ‘overwhelmingly positive responses’ from GPs, and recruitment of 403 clinical pharmacists is due to begin immediately for a spring 2016 launch.

The pilots, announced by NHS England today, will cover 83 practices in London, 230 in the south of England, 183 in the Midlands and 203 in the north, spanning a population of 7.6 million patients.

The scheme will run for three years and NHS England will contribute 60% of costs for the first 12 months – which will include a ‘training programme’ – dropping to 40% then 20%.

Practices already employing pharmacists have reported they play an ‘invaluable role’ in alleviating GP workload by taking on medicines management tasks and freeing up GP time to focus on patients with increasingly complex care needs.

GP leaders welcomed the swift development and implementation of the scheme in response to the acute workforce crisis currently affecting the profession.

However, they added that resources now needed to be dedicated to recruiting and retaining GPs in general practice.

In a statement NHS England said pilots were chosen based on their potential to improve GP access and reduce workload.

It added: ‘Additional funding was found to more than double the number of supported applications after the panels were impressed by the outstanding quality of responses.’

The GP clinical pharmacist pilot was developed as part of the joint NHS England, Health Education England, RCGP and GPC 10 point GP workforce plan.

The plan also promoted expanding general practice teams to make use of physician associates and advanced nurse practitioners, with health secretary Jeremy Hunt pledging to recruit 5,000 more supporting staff by 2020 in his ’new deal’ speech.

GPC chair Dr Chaand Nagpaul said the pilots were a ‘positive and important opportunity’ to relieve some unsustainable pressure on GPs, but should be available to all practices.

He said: ‘We need to ensure that the benefits from these pilots can be extended to all practices nationally, so that GPs can be supported to have the time to see the increasing numbers of patients with complex and long-term conditions, and in order to provide quality and accessible care.’

RCGP chair Dr Maureen Baker said: ‘The feedback that we have received from our members who already have a practice-based pharmacist is that they play an invaluable role, so we are pleased that NHS England has taken the idea so seriously and so swiftly brought it to fruition.’

NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens said the pilot would be a ‘win-win for GPs, pharmacists and patients’ adding: ‘By testing these new ways of working across professional boundaries we are taking another step forward to relieving some of the pressure that GPs are clearly under and ensuring patients see the health professional that best suits their needs.’

 

Readers' comments (28)

  • We bid as a federation and were unsuccessful.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Are they on short term contracts,who is responsible for redundency payments when these monies dry up and there has been no uplift in primary care funding to compensate for the extra bodies?

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • How long before those pharmacists start to drown in a sea of workload? It would say right away. Burnt out GPs will redirect everything to them. Oh look, another pharmacist quit. I wonder why?

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • NHSE subsidises the pharmacists in the first few years and then they are expected to become part of the practice team. The practice (or federation in our case) take the risk around redundancy etc. Given there was much more interest that expected the issue of employment risk does not seem to have been a general issue

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Another great idea from the Good Idea Fairy; let's hope all that money going down does not block the toilet.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Looked at it but from what I remember the practice would have to fund the pharmacist eventually which in our case would mean cutting clinical sessions.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • the model is based on the assumption that pharmcists can take on GP work e.g. repeat authorisation. Some practices think this will work and some don't. No doubt posters on here will bein the latter camp

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Just a thought folks, but what will you do instead when you run out of GPs? I would much rather a GP as well, but those who wait end up having to do this from their own pocket instead. Or, of course, you could run out of capacity to see patients and go bust at your own expense. I hear detractors, but not many alternatives.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • It will be interesting to see just how "invaluable" the Pharmacists remain when individual Practices become responsible for their costs.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • So pharmacists in GP practices is a great idea eh? Where is the evidence base for this? Quoting the anecdotal success stories of those enthusiasts who have already engaged in this is unscientific and possibly misleading.
    In 2011 the RPC and RCGP published a joint paper on the role of pharmacists in General Practice. It was full of hope for the role of pharmacists in GP but was sensibly loaded with caveats about training etc. What has been published since then and what is the quality? What progress has been made in terms of training? Professor Christine Bond wrote an article in the October issue of the BJGP which was very supportive of the use of pharmacists in GP but was severely lacking in substantial evidence as to why we should be following this path. Is this because the evidence does not exist? We need to beware the rising tide of influential characters in our profession who promote popular policy without evidence. What is their agenda?
    The fact is that there are too few GPs and too many pharmacists. There is no national cap on the number of university places for pharmacists – hence the glut. There are too few places at medical school however, and we are seeing a brain drain as doctors emigrate. Logic would suggest that we should cap the number of places for pharmacists and increase the number for doctors so that people do the job they are trained for. But, of course, the real agenda is to do everything on the cheap and our so called leaders perversely support this. The approach may help (or possibly hinder) in the short term but it is not a long term solution. A workforce crisis should not have us all agreeing to a lowering of standards and nor should general practice be used to find a place for inappropriately trained people who have joined an oversubscribed profession.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • PM @12.10 - what will you do when you run out of GPs? Exactly but not quite as you appear to mean. Are you going to be happy to see a pharmacist instead? The alternative is for the powers that be to stop faffing around with bright new ideas and consider why doctors are being driven away in the first place. Concentrate on the basics and stop throwing money at endless pilot schemes supposedly to save money and to address the GP shortage that wouldn't exist if they didn't keep meddling.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Last two posts hit the nail on the head, couldn't agree more

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • You will get monkeys if you pay peanuts.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • We also bid as a Federation and were unsuccessful, it would be useful to obtain feedback as a lot of time and effort was put in to the application

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • The government has an agenda and protecting the NHS it ain't .
    What they do and what they say is not for the faint.
    Stand your ground and fight for your rights, before we get lost in a mist of complaints.
    Moan you say. Ha they say. Fools without restraint.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Call me cynical (I've been called worse) but how come the overworked anonymous moaners find the time to read the article, compose and send their response in what most of us would consider to be work time?

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • We are the RLE generation Duncan.
    Still working for the Nash? More fool you.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • That's what you took from the posts Duncan?
    Why bother with the content eh?

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • I sometimes wonder if the lunatics have taken over.

    Of course initially it will work because they are throwing money at it (£31 million !!). However when the money dries up or reduces they wont be employed any more. They wont affect workload at all.

    There are also fundamental issues of liability here. You must be careful if you are a gp working with them that you dont take on their medicolegal risk.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • 8.12pm - I agree - with the move towards using advanced nurse practitioners, physican's associates, clinical pharmacists etc - roles and responsibilities have to be very clearly defined and as doctors we have to be very careful what additional risk we take on.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • I worked as a practice pharmacist 10+yrs ago, PCT was intruding practices to the benefit of a pharmacist, they were nervous of being told off at first but once we were fully embedded they didn't want to give us up. The pharmacists were funded by top-slicing the prescribing budget and we more than paid for our cost.

    The current practice pharmacist pilot of course isn't going to replace GPs - isn't the issue that there are insufficient doctors choosing GPractice to specialise in? Utilising a pharmacist in the practice adds an essential member of the practice team irrespective of adequate complement of GPs. Whether you make it work depends on how innovative and open-minded you are - pharmacists are really good value for money.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Dear Duncan,

    The reason we can moan during work time is because we have head space and we can take breaks. We dont have hundreds of admin tasks and interruptions on top of 30 patients contacts per session. We reflect, we pause, we work and we create magic healing patients we dont resent.

    Kind Regard

    A Happy GP

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Dear Duncan,

    1. We stay at work until we can reasonably finish for the day - rarely less than 10-11 hours so any time we take out to read potentially relevant articles just gets added on at the end.
    2. We can read quite quickly and it's only a few paragraphs
    3. It takes a few seconds to post a response
    4. Why do you dismiss those stating informed opinions as"moaners"?
    5. This is a forum for discussion and exchange of ideas between colleagues.
    Hope this helps.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Cathy
    the problem here is they (the big bad NHSE) are mixing up Practice Income with potential savings in drug budgets - whilst it would be great for every practice to have an in house pharmacist making significant savings for someone else's budget but costing me money isn't going to help me pay my mortgage or even my defence subs - how many practice nurses or even receptionists or dispensers will I have to make redundant in a year or two's time when the sweetener runs out & the pharmacist still wants to be paid despite bringing in no additional practice income.


    A nice idea but as ever all wrong in the way it is being implemented - why on earth dont "they" know how the system works?

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • cough cough cough.

    wet or dry, we have a medicine for both.

    not any better? buy some homeopathy then see your 'free' GP

    Sorry , I forgot, I am no longer retail but really clinical.
    Stop your statin because you are 90 yrs old.
    stop your ensure because the nursing home should feed you not the NHS.
    Stop your gluten free nonsense because you have autism or IBS not coeliac disease.
    It is so much better now I work for a GP and not having to sell nostrums for a living

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Full list here.
    https://www.england.nhs.uk/commissioning/primary-care-comm/gp-action-plan/cp-gp-pilot/list-of-pilot-sites/

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Anonymous | GP Partner 18 Nov 2015 0:09am

    Well if you're being juvenile.

    Doctor, Doctor I have an ailment,

    Just wait while I consult google...

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Knock, Knock
    Who's there?
    Private.
    Private who?
    Private NHS baaaaaaaaaaa

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

Have your say