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Independents' Day

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)

  • 7962 practices in England so one pharmacist per 26.5 practices or looked at another way -35,561 GPs so one pharmacist for every 118 GPs. As usual absolutely no idea about the scale of problems we face. Ignore this "scheme".

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  • From this has 5000 new GPs turned to 5000 new staff,no mention of extra GPs.Is the problem finally dawning,almost everyone wants out no one wants in with regards to medics in general practice.Primary care seems to be the dog mes in the path that everyone wants to miss and hope they dont slip over on it.

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  • Dear All,

    This scheme is of course by no means the answer, but is part of a series of pilot initiatives (part of the 10 point plan) that we hope will ensure struggling practices get the sustained resources they need.

    The pilot will be comprehensively evaluated and will come with funding for three years with an expectation that practices will continue with the role into year four and beyond. NHS England will provide practices with match funding of 60% in the first year, 40% in the second year and 20% in the third year. This pilot should build on the success of those GP practices already employing pharmacists in patient-facing roles. The pilot proposal has two grades of clinical pharmacist working together. Experienced clinical pharmacists who will be prescribers or working towards to prescribing qualifications and who will begin to see patients immediately and less experienced clinical pharmacists will be employed as part of the same development programme, working with and mentored by the experienced pharmacists, developing their clinical skills in the context of general practice with the intention of taking on prescribing responsibilities in the course of the programme.

    In short, it is a funded pilot to see how pharmacists (who are trained to a high calibre and regulated) can be incorporated widely into patient facing roles in general practice.


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  • Already have one in our practice and have done for years at personal expense. Will there be any funding to support those practices who have already taken the initiative?

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  • 60%-40%-20%-0% funding.
    What next a social worker for each practice (a great idea BTW) 60-40-0%
    Reiki therapist 60-40-0%

    GP income 60-40-0% of current levels due to employing everyone- we're not a job creation scheme. Give us recurring adequate funding and we'll find a way to care for patients and deliver a service.
    If you proposed this to business as the pharmacist is not increasing income the anser would be I'm out or something less polite.

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  • If they don't work out after 3 years and aren't VFM who pays the redundancy payment?

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  • Peter Swinyard

    "Typical starting salaries for community pharmacists are in the region of £20,000 to £25,000, depending on location and conditions of employment, with small chains and independent pharmacies often paying lower.
    With experience, salaries rise to around £35,000 and at a specialist or management level, they may reach £40,000 to £68,000."
    Hard to imagine a small practice being able to afford 40% of that for 3 years - unless some money comes back from any prescribing savings.
    No? Thought not.

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  • We will be gaining a pharmacist as part of our plans to co-ordinate care in our locality. Novel ideas need to be explored when it is nigh on impossible to replace GPs leaving the profession. I hope that they positively contribute to patient care rather than multiply the number of tasks that a GP is expected to underwrite.

    It seems fair for the early financial risk to be offset by this scheme. After all these years it is still a natural reaction for us to be reaching for our wallets...

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  • It is not a funded pilot! It is a 40% funded pilot over 3 years. Who are we supposed to make redundant to pay for the other 60%???

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  • Do you know what would get people to want to get into GP and stop looking for cheap smoke and mirror tactics of employing Noctors? Stop DoH tinkering, leave us to be Doctors and as no-one wants to do it because it's so miserable, pay enough so people are queuing up to try and do the job. Offer £300k per year (similar to our esteemed secondary care colleagues who can somehow mange to work full-time in the NHS and still manage a good few days per week doing Private, seemingly completely acceptable because they're "specialists") and you may find people wanting to enter General Practice.There's no other way any young Dr would ever want to do this job.Or how about £60 at least for every single contact just like in A&E for starters.

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