Up to six million people set to benefit from more clinical pharmacists in GP surgeries

Patients across England are set to benefit from more convenient trips to the GP with the announcement by NHS England of new, surgery-based clinical pharmacists to help with routine medication and treatment.

Over 700 more practices in England will benefit from having a pharmacist located in their GP surgery covering up to six million patients and helping to free up GP time. Clinical pharmacists work as part of the general practice team by providing expertise on day-to-day medicine issues and providing consultations with patients directly. This includes providing extra help to manage long-term conditions such as high blood pressure earlier and more effectively to prevent cardiovascular disease; advice for those on multiple medications; and offering better access to health checks. This all delivers quicker access to clinical advice for patients and allows GPs to spend with patients with more complex needs.

Dr Arvind Madan, GP and NHS England Director of Primary Care, said: “The clinical pharmacist programme is a clear win-win for patients and GPs. The pilots have shown GP workload to be eased while patients have the convenience of being seen by the right professional in a more timely way. The expansion of the programme today is great news for everyone.”

Norwich is one area that is already benefiting from the programme. Three clinical pharmacists are working across five GP practices in the city and are pro-actively helping patients stay safe and well and out of hospital as well as support busy GPs and practice nurses.

John Higgins, who works from Norwich Practices Health Centre, said: “It has been a big success so far. One of the major successes is that patients enjoy seeing us face-to-face; they ring to thank us afterwards.

“If a GP is unsure about anything they can send me a note and I will do the prescription via the electronic prescription service within ten minutes.”

As well as prescribing, the clinical pharmacists undertake medicine reviews, help manage discharge of people from hospitals to make sure they are taking the right medicines in the right dose and identify patients who might need ongoing support to stay safe and well.

GP Dr Chris Dent, who is on the Governing body of NHS Norwich CCG, described patient feedback so far as really positive.

He said: “Clinical pharmacists have added a whole new dimension to patient care by improving the quality and safety of prescribing and helping us make better use of resources.”

As part of NHS England’s sweeping measures to support general practice and give patients more convenient access to care with over £100m of investment supporting an extra 1,500 clinical pharmacists to work in general practice by 2020/21. This is in addition to over 490 clinical pharmacists already working across approximately 650 GP practices as part of a pilot, launched in July 2015.

NHS England, Health Education England, the Royal College of General Practitioners and the British Medical Association’s GP Committee are working with the Royal Pharmaceutical Society to support the programme roll out.

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