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GP practices offered funding to employ pharmacists under £15m NHS England scheme

NHS England has committed to investing £15m to recruit clinical pharmacists to GP practices, its chief executive has announced today.

As part of the three-year pilot schemes announced by Simon Stevens, 300 pharmacists will be employed directly by practices – likely as part of federations – in ‘areas of greatest need where GPs are under greatest pressure’.

NHS England said it will fund 60% of the costs of the pharmacists to the practices for the first 12 months of employment, which will decrease to 40% for the second year and 20% for the third year.

The GPC said it would ‘look closely’ at how the pilots will operate.

This follows the health secretary’s announcement of a ‘new deal’ last month, in which he said the Government would look to introduce 5,000 staff – including pharmacists, physician associates and practice nurses – into general practice by 2020.

NHS England said that the pharmacists will be involved in:

  • providing clinical advice and expertise on treatments;
  • developing bespoke medicine plans for individual patients;
  • establishing ongoing professional relationships with individual patients;
  • assisting with communication across a patient’s care pathway, including with GPs, hospitals and social care; 
  • monitoring patients with complex long term conditions such as hypertension or diabetes;
  • managing repeat prescription requests;
  • increasing the uptake of new medicines;
  • managing medicines shortages by suggesting suitable alternatives where appropriate;
  • supporting innovation and clinical research where appropriate;
  • and mentoring newer pharmacists.

A spokesperson told Pulse that they are inviting bids from groups of practices to take on a team of pharmacists, one of whom will be senior and will help train the junior members as well as other members of staff.

The decision as to who gets the funding will be made by a panel, including members of Health Education England.

Mr Stevens said: ‘This has the potential to be a win-win-win for patients, their GPs and for pharmacists.

‘Tapping into the skills of clinical pharmacists should help expand care and relieve some of the pressure that GPs are clearly under. This isn’t a silver bullet but it is a practical and constructive contribution to the wider challenge.’

Dr Krishna Kasaraneni, chair of the GP training, education and workforce subcommittee, said this was an ‘encouraging’ move.

However, he added: ‘We will need to look closely at how these pilots operate and ensure that the clinical benefits of the scheme are clear.’

In 2012, a major GMC-commissioned report found that one in 20 GP prescriptions contained errors, and the GMC recommended a greater role for pharmacists in general practice.


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