£15m NHS scheme set to place pharmacists in GP surgeries
A new scheme announced by NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens indicates that calls for health services to make greater use of community pharmacy expertise are being heeded. The trial scheme, which goes live later this year, will see clinical pharmacists placed in GP surgeries which are deemed to be under the greatest pressure. £15 million has been made available to fund, recruit and employ between 250 and 300 pharmacists in patient-facing roles over three years. This first wave of the programme is expected to help support the needs of around one million patients.
These pharmacists will be employed directly by surgeries to offer assistance in a number of areas, including: managing requests for repeat prescriptions; aiding communication between GPs, hospitals and social services; helping patients manage complex health needs that may require multiple medications; and providing solutions to medicine shortages. The initiative aims to ease the intense workload many GPs experience and to replicate the success of individual practices who have employed pharmacists in a similar capacity.
The model of each pilot site will be based on one senior clinical pharmacist and five clinical pharmacists. The senior clinical pharmacist will mentor the other pharmacists, who will take part in a one-year training programme being developed by the Centre for Postgraduate Pharmacy Education.
NHS England will part fund the pharmacists’ salaries for 36 months; 60 per cent is to be provided for the first 12 months of employment, 40 per cent for the second 12 months and 20 per cent for the third 12 months. Applications from general practices to take part in the pilot will be assessed against a number of criteria by NHS England regions and Health Education England before final decisions are made by a panel representing all partner organisations.
Dr Maureen Baker, chair of the Royal College of General Practitioners, welcomed the announcement, saying: “We are delighted that the proposals we announced with the Royal Pharmaceutical Society back in March this year are already coming to fruition, meaning that patients – and GPs – will see the benefits more quickly.”