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GP practices offered funding to employ pharmacists under £15m NHS England scheme

NHS England has committed to investing £15m to recruit clinical pharmacists to GP practices, its chief executive has announced today.

As part of the three-year pilot schemes announced by Simon Stevens, 300 pharmacists will be employed directly by practices - likely as part of federations - in ‘areas of greatest need where GPs are under greatest pressure’.

NHS England said it will fund 60% of the costs of the pharmacists to the practices for the first 12 months of employment, which will decrease to 40% for the second year and 20% for the third year.

The GPC said it would ‘look closely’ at how the pilots will operate.

This follows the health secretary’s announcement of a ‘new deal’ last month, in which he said the Government would look to introduce 5,000 staff - including pharmacists, physician associates and practice nurses - into general practice by 2020.

NHS England said that the pharmacists will be involved in:

  • providing clinical advice and expertise on treatments;
  • developing bespoke medicine plans for individual patients;
  • establishing ongoing professional relationships with individual patients;
  • assisting with communication across a patient’s care pathway, including with GPs, hospitals and social care; 
  • monitoring patients with complex long term conditions such as hypertension or diabetes;
  • managing repeat prescription requests;
  • increasing the uptake of new medicines;
  • managing medicines shortages by suggesting suitable alternatives where appropriate;
  • supporting innovation and clinical research where appropriate;
  • and mentoring newer pharmacists.

A spokesperson told Pulse that they are inviting bids from groups of practices to take on a team of pharmacists, one of whom will be senior and will help train the junior members as well as other members of staff.

The decision as to who gets the funding will be made by a panel, including members of Health Education England.

Mr Stevens said: ‘This has the potential to be a win-win-win for patients, their GPs and for pharmacists.

‘Tapping into the skills of clinical pharmacists should help expand care and relieve some of the pressure that GPs are clearly under. This isn’t a silver bullet but it is a practical and constructive contribution to the wider challenge.’

Dr Krishna Kasaraneni, chair of the GP training, education and workforce subcommittee, said this was an ‘encouraging’ move.

However, he added: ‘We will need to look closely at how these pilots operate and ensure that the clinical benefits of the scheme are clear.’

In 2012, a major GMC-commissioned report found that one in 20 GP prescriptions contained errors, and the GMC recommended a greater role for pharmacists in general practice.


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Readers' comments (30)

  • It's all part of the plan to get rid of the partnership model . Seemingly doing something to help whilst actually doing nothing . They think it will be easier to privatise salary drones . 2-3 years tops for primary care. On no account sign any building leases .

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  • Vinci Ho

    You see.
    I hate when politicians or bureaucrats said ' this is a win-win situation!' . And Harvey Dent even proclaimed triple win in here! I only know everything comes with advantages and disadvantages . Questions remain:
    (1) Is the pharmacist eventually 'loyal' to the practice or another thorn on your side , inserted by NHSE?
    (2) Is the addition of a pharmacist really going to improve the quality of care to the patients of the practice? (That needs to be expressed in real outcome measurements, not some rhetorical claims).
    (3) The economic model only makes sense if this addition will also increase the incomes coming into practices. Fitting into the ideology of federation, does that mean the federation with these pharmacists in place , is more likely to win contracts in CCG procurement / tendering of services coming to the way of primary care ?
    History only has taught us that we should always be sceptical about schemes like these. After all , the trust and relationship between GPs and this government remain at historically low.

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  • This may be good news for partners as well, because they can spend much less money on these Pharmacy Assistants than on Locum/Salaried GPs.

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  • R we GPs going to fund 40/60/80/100 of pharmacist's pay to see NHS patients?. I think the BMA has gone loco.
    If you want GPs, Krishna, pay them. No amount of pay for pharmacists will rescue General Practice.

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  • That's exact the point. They don't want to "rescue" general practice. They WANT it to fail.

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  • In the application form it asks how the GPs will cover the pharmacists indemnity costs!

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  • I am a pharmacist working in General Practice. My remit inter alia is to run the "Breathing Clinic". I have acquired my competency by spending 2 years on shadowing consultants on ward rounds and out-patient clinics, become an independent prescriber, and I have demonstrated my credibility with an MSc in Respiratory Disease Management. Our practice has one of the highest QoF scores, and one of the lowest admission rates. Q.E.D

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  • I trust my GP, the last thing I need is a pharmacist that knows nothing of my health situation, the last thing I need is a pharmacist who hasn't a clue about my health, and i don't want him/ her to know.
    Hunt also says he will stick a price label on medicines that coast more than £20 to make patients aware of cost. Will he also put price labels on medicines that cost a fraction of a penny but he is happy to charge them £8 plus per item?>

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  • All the negative comments does not surprise me;. I wonder how many of the comments came from experiance. Having been a pharmacist IP for 10 years I know I am appreciated by th e practices I work at. Yes my diagnostic skills are limited, however patients are referred to me for management leaving GPs to free to see more acute cases.

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  • Hi Philip,
    I am really pleased that your skills are appreciated , and that you recognise that your diagnostic skills are limited.
    I have a problem with our local pharmacy where the sales people are happy to sell cough medicines, homeopathy and bach flower remedy as if this was real not woo woo

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