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How to secure funding for an in-practice pharmacist

NHS England has committed to investing £15m to recruit clinical pharmacists to GP practices. Here’s your need-to-know on the pilots

Q Who can apply?

Practices and groups of practices are invited to bid to participate. NHS England is ‘strongly encouraging’ practices to work together on joint bids involving pharmacists across several sites.

Q When do the applications have to be in by?

The deadline is 5pm on Thursday 17 September 2015.

Q When do the pilots start?

NHS England information is currently vague on this, suggesting both ‘Winter 2015’ and ‘early 2016’.

Q How does the funding work?

At least £15 million is said to be being invested in the pilots over next three years.

NHS England will part fund the pharmacists’ pay costs during this time if they are taken on before 31 March 2016. Funding will be broken down as follows: 60% for the first 12 months of employment, 40% for the second 12 months of employment and 20% for the third 12 months of employment. It’s expected that after three years of employment, practices or federations will fund the pharmacists on their own.

Q Why have the pilots been launched?

NHS England suggests that it’s because there have been significant benefits for patients and for the practice teams in cases where practices already employ pharmacists. It says: ‘the purpose of this pilot is to encourage more practices to consider new ways of working like this. The pilot will be evaluated so that evidence can be gathered and published to assist more practices to take advantage of the lessons learned.’

Q Who will select/appoint?

Local Education and Training Boards and NHS England regional teams will assess the applications. CCGs will be involved in instances where co-commissioning arrangements are in place. NHS England says that shortlisted pilots will be reviewed by a national moderating panel.

Q What level of qualification should be expected? Will these pharmacists be prescribing?

Each pilot site is expected to include an experienced clinical pharmacist who will be a prescriber or working towards a prescribing qualification and who will begin to see patients immediately. Up to five less experienced clinical pharmacists could also be employed.

Q What ongoing training and evaluation will these pharmacists receive? Who will be responsible for delivering and/or co-ordinating this?

Pharmacists who participate will be expected to participate in development and education provided by the Centre for Postgraduate Pharmacy Education (CPPE).

NHS England is planning that the experienced pharmacist will mentor the other pharmacists. In time, these pharmacists are hoped to take on prescribing responsibilities as part of the pilot. They’re also hoped to work towards taking on such tasks as developing pharmaceutical care plans for individual patients, managing repeat prescribing requests and managing medicines shortages by suggesting suitable alternatives.

Q How will the pilot be assessed?

Once funding has been secured, the assessment will look at whether a pilot would ameliorate aspects of practice operation, such as access to GP and wider workforce, the behaviour of patients with long term conditions and communication between the practice, community pharmacy and hospital pharmacy on admission, discharge and other aspects of care.

Q What factors are likely to make an application succeed?

NHS England has said it’s going to support bids from practices in areas where vacancies in GP posts have resulted from challenges in recruitment and retention of GPs and other clinical staff. Priority will be given to areas with lowest GPs per head of population, which can demonstrate that they’ve experience such recruitment challenges.

You can also give your practice the best chance of success by making sure to show commitment to the pilot in your application, which, according to NHS England, could include key performance indicators to be used to measure success and benchmarks on current performance, a pharmacist job description and person specification and description of costing for the post.

The information available also states that applications will be assessed on how employing a pharmacist will have the potential to address the workforce need in the practice. For more information, see the full specifications here.

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Readers' comments (18)

  • A clinical pharmacist is likely to be the second most expensive person in the building (behind the GPs). Since the practice will be paying 40% of this even in the first year (and more to follow) practices need to think long and hard as to whether this will deliver sufficient benefits.

    Remember instead of a pharmacist on £40 thousand full time you could have a salaried doctor for 2 full days per week. I know which I'd pick.

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  • The aim of the pilot is not to replace doctors but to explore how pharmacists can support General Practice, it is about using a different skill set to improve patient care. As Jeremy Hunt is finding out GPs don't grow on trees and we should look at different ways of working.

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  • Thank you. please can we therefore have a strategy that helps GPs without undermining their future by replacing them with non-doctors as is the fashion these days in the UK

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  • There are 40000 GPs in the UK.
    £15m over 3 years equates to £125 per GP per year, or perhaps £500 per annum for an average size practice.
    So that should buy you about 20 mins of a pharmacist's time per week.... or one medication review.

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  • different skill set to improve patient care

    Hilarious. In a crisis any new staff should be supporting the primary function of the organisations ( support front line clinical staff). Practices who pay for the privilege of training up pharmacists are remarkably stupid as this is unlikely to make their working lives easier.

    Practices need to look at any firm and see how they analyse their workflows, this is where the business analysts are useful.

    Pharmacists are highly qualified but they do not serve a function that will offload significant work for GPs. Once trained they are likely to move on and all that time and investment will have been wasted!

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  • More information about the training pathway is available on the CPPE website;
    The pathway will include education, support and mentoring for pharmacists. Trainee pharmacists will not be involved in mentoring others until at least year 2, CPPE will appoint clinical supervisors as mentors, they will provide clinical support and facilitate peer learning. We will work with LETBs to make sure the education works at a regional level. Ceinwen Mannall, General practice pharmacist training pathway, CPPE

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  • Anon 09:02am funding is for ~250 pharmacist positions for the practices that enter a bid for the pilot, not every GP/Practice

    Anon 11:01am the pharmacists WILL BE front line clinical staff, seeing patients and assisting with medication based problems to free up GP time. Hopefully the (majority of) GPs I work with will strongly refute the statement " not serve a function that will offload significant work for GPs". Ss with any employer/employee relationship, if a pharmacist feels valued by the GPs they work for/with I would hope that the vast majority would want to continue working for/with them.

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  • i see no point in paying 1p for pharmacist. why should a gp fund pharmicist??? improving patient care is govt's problem . gp has lost so much income , why should any one pay for pt from pocket??
    how good it is if gp can pay for every thing to improve care and they can eat grass. who comes up with such idea?, if gp improves services then he needs to be rewarded financially, even charity will not do such thing. good luck to those who pay from practice to fund pharmacy.

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  • all this is a lovely experiment, and with time and money i'm sure pharmacists gained be trained to do a PA type role.

    However why are GP's paying for this ? - this is the responsibility of the government.

    Yes there is an oversupply of Pharmacists - but I imagine once a few pharmacists are trained up they will disappear or get bored of junior roles. It is only if they are independent and individually indemnified can you truly call them front line clinicians.

    Currently many NP's and PA's exist in a grey zone where they work under supervision and are able to deal with minor illness well.

    But in terms of productivity they have 15-20 min appts and aren't certified as GP's.

    Pharmacists are an interesting experiment - but a waste of valuable resource

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  • Robin - I am anon 9.02.
    I have great respect for in-practice pharmacists, especially independent prescribers. We have had one for 10 years and she is of great value to the practice. My previous post was intentded simply to illustrate the government's usual tactic - publish a headline with several million pounds mentioned, and everyone will think they are getting a free lunch. In reality this scheme will simply tie practices into a future financial undertaking that they probably cannot afford.

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