This site is intended for health professionals only

At the heart of general practice since 1960

Read the latest issue online

CAMHS won't see you now

RCGP launches new initiative for pharmacists to work in GP surgeries

Pharmacists will work in GP practices to help address the shortage of GPs, under an initiative to be outlined by the RCGP and Royal Pharmaceutical Society today.

The proposals would see pharmacists working as part of the general practice team, in roles similar to those held by practice nurses.

The RCGP and RPS say that the move will improve patient safety and care and reduce GP waiting times.

Under the proposals, pharmacists would work closely with GPs and other colleagues to resolve day-to-day medicine issues, particularly for patients with long-term conditions and who are taking a number of different medications, and would liaise with other care providers.

Dr Maureen Baker, chair of the RCGP, said new solutions were needed to reduce waiting times, and the current oversupply of pharmacists would be one way of doing so.

She said: ‘Even if we were to get an urgent influx of extra funding and more GPs, we could not turn around the situation overnight due to the length of time it takes to train a GP.

‘Yet we already have a hidden army of highly trained pharmacists who could provide a solution. Practice-based pharmacists, working as part of the clinical team, would relieve the pressure on GPs and make a huge difference to patient care.’

She said this wasn’t a call for pharmacy premises within premises, such as with dispensing doctors, but ‘about making full use of the pharmacist’s clinical skills to help patients and the over-stretched GP workforce’.

Dr Chaand Nagpaul, GPC chair, said: ‘This proposal has the potential to improve the skills mix in local GP services and raise the number of healthcare professionals on hand to provide help to patients. This will be a welcome step forward given that GP practices are currently under unprecedented strain from rising patient demand and falling resources.

‘The implementation of this programme will be key. For it to work properly, there will need to be additional resources to enable enough pharmacists to be placed in GP surgeries. There will need to be a well thought-out, adequately resourced plan to ensure it is delivered effectively.’

Dr Baker first raised the issue of pharmacists working in GP practices in October last year.

Readers' comments (14)

  • What about more GPs say the College,its all about the T&Cs, get them right more people will join the workforce.Get them wrong and we are where we are now.A pharmacist is not a full time GP this is not a long term sollution.But maybe to the governement toadies the intoduction of more noctors to make the workforce cheaper is just whats needed for invasion by big healthcare providers.The other issue is indemnity I wont be happy paying for it.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Breaking News - Pharmacist work in pharmacies already where patients can go for free.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • We do not need new solutions to deal with workload, we need to stop being buried in nonsense and trivia and pointless bureaucracy. We have enough GPs, but too much nonsense - a problem which the RCGP has contributed to.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • I can't see the logic of assigning an office & appointment system to "see the pharmacist" when people can already do that without an appointment for themselves.

    Where I "could" see the Pharmacist as making a difference would be to have them as more integrated members of the practice team (rather than behind a counter) as happens in the Hospital setting where they are an integral part of the ward round along with other disciplines. Able to review medication, side-effects, interactions etc. "on the spot" they free up time for the Consultant to try and actually make a diagnosis.

    GPs do strike me as being potentially very isolated and unsupported working alone in office seeing one patient after another without an obvious support network in place during the consultation.

    Maybe certain appointments with a complex medication background could be grouped together and seen in a session jointly by GP and Pharmacist?

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • We've had Practice Pharmacists in our area for over 5 years now and what an asset they are. They do all the medication reviews, manage repeat meds and the script clerks, they see patients face-to-face and over the telephone. Carry out smoking cessation and ours has even qualified in minor dermatology conditions so all minor skin complaints are referred internally to the Pharmacist.


    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Pharmacists can offer good advice......typically "better see the doctor - just to be on the safe side". One example I always remember was a woman who had been stung by a wasp. Sensibly she thought there was no need to see a doctor (A&E or GP) so she asked her local pharmacist for guessed...."best to see your GP dear"!! PS. Love the spell checker on here: pharmacist is corrected to 'park a cyst' !!

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Agree with last comments.
    But are we talking about health authority pharmacists or pharmacists employed by pharmacy companies?
    One is a good idea- the other I'm not so sure.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • @ 11:37am - "better see the Doctor - just to be on the safe side".
    You are unfortunately not wrong - but to be fair we see a lot of people in the Hospital who were told by their GP "better go to Hospital - just to be on the safe side"
    It's the nature of the defensive society we have created.......
    Putting more Pharmacists in GP Practices will only make a difference if they are the right kind with the experience and training, just as the suggestions for putting GPs in Hospitals will only work if they are similarly skilled and trained for that environment.

    There's an election apparently - and the Government wants to be seen to be "doing something" - we should take the money but do something better with it based around clinical & professional leadership - not ministerial & commercial diktat?

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Pharmacists in a community pharmacy setting do not have access to the full medical history and records that is available in the practice. Without access to diagnosis, hospital letters etc, you cannot offer a proper service. I have been working in primary care as a pharmacist now for a few years and I can clearly see the benefits competent pharmacists can bring to a GP practice. Some of the negative comments is probably deserved i.e. sending someone to a GP for a wasp sting, but I would suggest any pharmacist starting work in a surgery will have suitable experience and training and common sense. It is not rocket science - GPs and pharmacists working together in practices each to their own strength can only be a good thing.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • not really news or groundbreaking. We have had them in Scotland for quite some time (though not in all areas). Generally a very useful and valued resource but not the answer to GP shortfall as our pharmacist reminded me "i am not a doctor and i dont want to be one thanks"

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

View results 10 results per page20 results per page

Have your say