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GPs ‘haven’t always been able to understand’ pharmacy, says NHSE

There is a need for GPs to understand ‘exactly what’s on offer from community pharmacy’ and collaborate better through PCNs, an NHS England director of primary care has said.

Speaking at the National Pharmacy Association (NPA) conference yesterday (8 July), Ed Waller, director for primary care strategy and NHS contracts at NHS England, said GPs ‘haven’t always been able to understand exactly what’s on offer from community pharmacy and to connect with it in the right way’. 

He said he wanted community pharmacy to be more integrated in every PCN, our sister title The Pharmacist reports.

At the same time, following a piece by Pulse columnist Copperfield, the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) called for a primary care roundtable to build bridges between GP practices and community pharmacy.

Speaking at the annual conference, Mr Waller said: ‘They haven’t always been able to understand exactly what’s on offer from community pharmacy and to connect with it in the right way,’ Mr Waller commented. 

‘We are working with general practice to make sure GP surgeries are understanding that service and starting to refer through it to community pharmacies.  

‘I know you’ll be doing that locally with your GP teams, but what more can we do, to build that in as a fundamental and standard part of the way we direct people to the right place for their needs in primary care.’ 

Mr Waller added: ‘I want to continue to emphasise that we really want to see community pharmacy a more and more integrated part of every PCN. I know that is working better in some places than others.  

‘I’ve heard some really encouraging examples of how community pharmacy and general practice have worked together on Covid vaccinations, on flu vaccinations, on management of various conditions, and I know that in other places the relationship isn’t as well developed.’

In an open letter, Thorrun Govind, chair of the RPS England board, wrote: ‘As a profession, we often face disparaging comments which ignore the important role we play in patients’ lives. 

‘There are huge benefits for collaboration between general practice and community pharmacy. By working more closely together we can improve access to primary care by supporting patients who require advice and treatment for certain minor illness conditions in the pharmacy. 

‘We share so many of the same objectives with general practitioners and I know we will be stronger if we work together.  

‘To make this a reality, I am proposing a roundtable with RPS, RCGP and other Royal Colleges. The focus will be on primary care, discussing how we can better work together as we emerge from Covid.’ 


Patrufini Duffy 9 July, 2021 5:50 pm

I don’t know why I looked up the word “wally” in the English dictionary. It actually exists you know. Riling up GPs again. GPs don’t understand? – sure thing, complete imbeciles they are aren’t they. Let’s ask the patient next time as they seemingly have a PhD in how to use pharmacists appropriately. If pharmacists can dispense daktacort, fucibet, fexofenadine, naproxen, nitrofurantoin and ofcourse *sertraline*, you might get a meaningful “round table discussion” in one’s seemingly trapezoid world.

Scottish GP 9 July, 2021 8:27 pm

Well NHSE certainly don’t understand GPs!

The Prime Minister 9 July, 2021 8:54 pm

Ed Waller needs to stop slagging off GPs and promoting the fantasy that GP practices have been closed………

Mr Marvellous 10 July, 2021 6:50 am

The irony is that it’s clear that NHS England don’t understand General Practice.

Turn out The Lights 10 July, 2021 7:09 am

Community pharmacy usually a sign post to go and see a GP.As for Ed Wally,what he really is begins with W and means the same as our ex adulterous COVID rule breaking SoSs surname.

David Church 12 July, 2021 12:08 pm

Can I make a disparaging comment about Thorrun allowing the recent ‘foot-in-mouth’ statement from the CEO of Boots! No wonder GPs are not at same table. I would rather eat elsewhere too. what do they expect. What a Wally.

James Wallace 13 July, 2021 4:01 am

When they stop selling tyxlix and robitussin I will consider taking them seriously. When they stop telling patients that an insect bite of 10 minutes duration needs antibiotics because it is red, hot and itchy and to contact their GP then I might treat their opinion without disdain. Last week I was told that I could not prescribe a fentanyl patch to a terminal patient as she was opioid naive!

Mitch Blair 13 July, 2021 9:34 am

As a paediatrician , I have been very impressed by how community pharmacies have stepped up during COVID and beforehand, especially in advising parents around minor ailments.
In many countries in Europe , pharmacists often have a poor reputation but see very large numbers of children. I believe in the UK we should consider ourselves lucky to have a well trained workforce respected by their local community. I am working with community pharmacists currently to improve antenatal and immediate postnatal care – by improving continuity of relationships see . Lets stop dissing them and lets work better together!

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