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Majority of GPs plan to employ clinical pharmacists when pilot funding ends

Most GPs involved in NHS England’s pilot programme for clinical pharmacist in GP practices will continue their employment after the funding ends, a study has found.

Pharmacists were found to have made a ‘unique and valuable contribution’ to patient safety and medicines and prescribing expertise, according to the report from the University of Nottingham.

The pharmacists were also able to provide support with prescribing tasks and help with the care of patients with long-term conditions.

GP leaders have previously criticised the lack of long-term funding for the pilot scheme, which was first announced in the GP Forward View.

Funding ends in 2020/21 and the funding period is three years. The cost of the CP to the practice is 40% of salary in year 1, 60% in year 2 and 80% in year 3.

But the report said: ‘Overall the data collected suggests that the majority of [GP] sites, at a practice level, are seeking to employ their pharmacist when the pilot scheme funding ends.

‘Although the role requires financial commitment from practices, GPs believe the role to be sustainable.’

One GP quoted in the report said: ‘We see we can’t survive without pharmacists, they are part of what we do.’ Another said it had ‘enormously helped our GP workload’.

The survey looked at 78 GP sites where 373 pharmacists were employed as part of the scheme.

The main benefit cited in the study was ‘improved capacity’ of the practices.

It also found that 87% of pharmacists surveyed agreed or strongly agreed that they worked closely with others in the practice, and 89% agreed or strongly agreed that they were accepted by other professionals in the practice.

However, in some cases there was a mismatch in expectations that proved to be a ‘barrier’ to its implementation. The study found that sometimes ‘unrealistic’ assumptions were made about the pharmacists’ capacity, experience and the cost of the scheme.