Clinical pharmacists vital to patient care in five-year GP deal

Pharmacists will take on an expanded role at the heart of local primary care networks across the country, NHS England has confirmed.

Following the new GP contract published today, patients across England will be able to get faster expert advice about their prescriptions and other treatment, with clinical pharmacists part of core practice teams.

Following backing from GPs for wider sharing of pharmacists’ skills, and a successful roll-out under the GP Forward View, thousands of opportunities will open for pharmacists to work primarily from local surgeries and alongside other professionals across primary care networks – groups of neighbouring GP practices covering up to 50,000 people.

Work is underway to recruit clinical pharmacists in each primary care network, which will comprise a range of health professionals including GPs, nurses, physios, therapists and social care providers.

Networks will be guaranteed significant funding over the coming years, as part of the NHS Long Term Plan, to transform care across the country.

All clinical pharmacists will undertake additional clinical training, and work to deliver appropriate structured medication reviews, improve medicine safety, support care homes, and run practice clinics.

Up to 10% of hospital admissions in the elderly population are medicines-related and research shows that as many as 50% of patients do not take their medicines as intended.

Where appropriate, and in the best interest of a patient, clinical pharmacists will advise on the potential of stopping, reducing or advise on alternatives for those taking, non-effective medicines, over-medicating or inappropriately using antibiotics.

NHS Chief Pharmaceutical Officer, Keith Ridge, said: “Today’s deal is a boost for patient care and a tremendous vote of confidence in the pharmacy professions.

“This historic, five-year GP contract is one of the first steps to delivering our NHS Long Term Plan and I’m pleased to see such clear recognition of pharmacists’ role at the heart of people’s care.

“From medication review for people on too many medicines, to the reduction of inappropriate use of antibiotics, the skills of clinical pharmacists and pharmacy technicians working with patients, and the wider primary care team, will make a real difference to the communities we serve.”

Clinical pharmacists undergo an 18-month training programme, in addition to their original five-year qualification, and work as part of a multi-disciplinary team in a patient facing role. They will use their expert knowledge of medicines to clinically assess and treat patients with specific diseases and illnesses.

Priorities for clinical pharmacists in primary care networks will include:

  • Undertaking medication reviews for patients most in need including those with dementia, cardio vascular disease and other major conditions
  • Improving safety, outcomes and value from medicines through a person‑centred approach to safe, effective medicines use
  • Providing care home residents and people with learning disabilities and autism, regular clinical pharmacist-led medicine reviews.
  • Reducing inappropriate antibiotic use.