Half of GP surgeries in Scotland now have access to a pharmacist or a pharmacy technician, the Scottish health secretary has said.
Speaking at the International Pharmaceutical Federation (FIP) Congress in Glasgow, Jeane Freeman said there had been ‘significant investment’ in embedding pharmacy staff in general practice over the past three years.
This comes after the Scottish Government had committed to giving every GP practice access to a pharmacist with advanced clinical skills by 2021.
Ms Freeman said: ‘We have now funded over 200 full-time equivalent pharmacists with advanced clinical skills, as well as 47 full-time equivalent technicians providing support to around half of our GP practices in Scotland.
‘These pharmacists and technicians are working directly with GP practices, freeing up GPs’ time to spend with people who have more complex needs.’
This ties in with Scotland’s new GP contract, which places the GP as an expert medical generalist at the head of a multidisciplinary team, forming part of a range of measures to take the pressure off overworked GPs and address workforce shortages.
The multidisciplinary teams, including NHS-employed pharmacists and nurses, will take over tasks such as repeat prescribing, drug monitoring and annual reviews.
Dr Andrew Buist, chair of the BMA’s Scottish GP Committee, said: ‘Practice pharmacists can play a hugely important role in reducing the workload pressures facing general practice.
‘The Scottish Government investment to date has been a welcome start, but we would like to see significantly more practices benefitting from pharmacist and pharmacy technician time, which will allow GPs to free up time to focus on delivering the care to patients that only a GP can provide.’
The Government previously outlined their plans for practice-based pharmacists to have a much greater responsibility for patient care in a report published last year and tasked pharmacists with taking over some routine management of long-term conditions.