West Midlands patients and GP practices to benefit from more clinical pharmacists

The West Midlands region, has successfully secured funding for five new clinical pharmacists working across 22 GP practices boosting the total to 670 across the Midlands and East of England with over 190 clinical pharmacists expected to be working in GP practices in the region in 2018.

The NHS England scheme has proved popular with both patients and GP practices and this announcement has approved funding for around 160 more surgery-based pharmacists, meaning 1,170 pharmacists in total will be in post by March 2018, covering 3,221 practices. A total of 583 clinical pharmacists are already in post across the country.

Clinical pharmacists work as part of the multi-disciplinary general practice team using their expert knowledge of medicines to clinically assess and treat patients. Some are also able to prescribe and more are being trained so that eventually all will be independent prescribers.

This includes help to manage care for people with long-term conditions, such as high blood pressure, earlier and more effectively to prevent diseases such as cardiovascular disease; advice on medicines and providing NHS health checks.

Their input delivers quicker access to clinical advice for patients and frees GPs to spend more time treating patients with more complex needs.

Dr Kiran Patel, Medical Director, NHS England (West Midlands), said: “The work that clinical pharmacists can do to help relieve the pressure on GPs is already making a difference.  Clinical Pharmacists help GPs to focus on patients with more complex issues that really need a doctor’s attention. They are highly trained experts who can provide much needed support, responding to queries from patients about their prescribed medication, managing medicine changes after discharge from hospital, as well as undertaking consultations with patients with long term or complex co-morbidities including conditions such asthma, diabetes or blood pressure.”

Dr Pete Thebridge, GP partner from Omnia Practice in Birmingham, said: “Working closely with five other practices in Eastern Birmingham, known as E5, Omnia Practice are very pleased to get this support, which will be shared between the practices. Having additional clinical pharmacists will support, complement and expand our existing teams, broadening the range of skills and enhancing the service that we can offer to our patients; to help them to manage their health more effectively.”

Dr Simon Mitchell, Executive Partner, Your Health Partnership, based in Sandwell, says:  It is good news that we have been able to secure support for the continued development of the Clinical Pharmacist role in General Practice.

“The introduction of Clinical Pharmacists to Your Health Partnership will allow us greater assurance that medicines are used and monitored appropriately which in turn improves patient safety.  Their clinical skills will be of great benefit to our patients as we look to expand the services we can offer to meet the needs of our patients particularly those with complex co-morbidities. ”

Greg Bloom, Non Clinical Partner and Manager of Umbrella Medical in Walsall said: “Umbrella Medical is delighted to have been successful in receiving funding from NHS England for a Clinical Pharmacist in General Practice. This funding will help to further strengthen our clinical team and will help the organisation to continue to provide high quality care to our 30,000 patients. It is essential that healthcare utilises the skills of all members of the multi-disciplinary team to ensure patients see the right clinician, in the right place at the right time.”

Dr Gwyn Harris, part of the Modality Partnership, which has practices in Birmingham and Walsall added:   “We are delighted that our partnership has been awarded further funding.  This will give our patients direct and local access to clinical pharmacists located within our GP practices.  In providing this enhanced service we can further strengthen the quality of care for our patients to make sure they receive a better care experience from their local GP service.”

Clinical pharmacists also undertake medicines reviews to proactively manage people who are taking multiple medicines, especially older people and those in residential care homes. They also provide leadership on improving outcomes and value from medicines, including ensuring prescribers in the practice conserve antibiotics in line with local antimicrobial stewardship guidance.

It is part of a wider approach to improving outcomes and value from medicines across the NHS, making sure prescribers and patients can have confidence that they are consistently using medicines in a way that gives the best possible health outcomes.

NHS England is now encouraging applications to the next wave of the scheme from across the country by 19 January 2018.

The increase in pharmacists in general practice is part of a wider expansion of the general practice workforce so that patients have better local access to a range of highly trained health professionals, for their needs.

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.