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GPs reluctant to give practice pharmacists control of prescribing decisions, study finds

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GPs are reluctant to hand over control of prescribing decisions to practice pharmacists, new research suggests. 

The study, published in the British Journal of General Practice, showed that some GPs think pharmacists lack the necessary skills and knowledge required to make clinical decisions, including a relationship with the patients and knowledge of their medical background.

Researchers interviewed 13 GPs and 10 pharmacists for the small qualitative study to find out their views and experiences of working together.

They also found that although GPs agreed that employing pharmacists in their practices reduced GP workload, some argued they tended to take longer to complete tasks than GPs.

This suggests that even though pharmacists cost less per hour than GPs, they were not necessarily more cost effective, the researchers said.

The study concluded that the key to good relationships between GPs and pharmacists was ‘knowing one another’ and through that developing good relationships.

Lead author Dr Polly Duncan, a GP and NIHR senior clinical research fellow at the Univerity of Bristol, said: ‘Our study suggests that building trusting relationships through face-to-face meetings between GPs and pharmacists is key to understanding and valuing one another’s expertise. 

‘Pharmacists could play an important role in making sure that patients who have multiple health problems are happy to take their medicines and that the benefits outweigh any potential harm or side effects.

‘This was a small qualitative study and more research is needed to establish the roles of practice pharmacists and whether they improve patient health outcomes.’

A version of this article was first published by Pulse sister title the Pharmacist.