New clinical pharmacy scheme will benefit patients

Setting up clinical pharmacists with a dedicated space inside GP surgeries is an innovative new idea recently piloted by NHS England. The success of this approach, adopted to help relieve pressure on gate keeping and emergency health services, and in place at 490 surgeries countrywide, has sparked extra funding to expand the scheme.


How can clinical pharmacists help?

Clinical pharmacists are highly qualified personnel and their knowledge of both disease and medication makes them extremely suitable for the role of the first, primary, or even exclusive, point of contact for particular groups of patients.

In general, the elderly, or those living with chronic diseases and conditions such as diabetes or high blood pressure, require more regular support, advice, guidance and/or medication. Diverting such users to the care of a clinical pharmacist helps avoid GP system overload.

The advantages of GP practice-based pharmacists

There are many benefits to this scheme, both for the patients and for the NHS as a whole – Having an easily accessible clinical pharmacist on-site is especially useful for patients with chronic or multiple health conditions, and the elderly too, who traditionally need more GP appointments or visits to A&E.

Releasing GPs to deal with issues requiring a different level of medical knowledge and training reduces waiting times for appointments, lowers the risk of GP burnout and generally eases stress on all other aspects of the healthcare system. This approach gives patients a fair chance of seeing a doctor or nurse practitioner when that is the sensible and necessary outcome, rather than the only one.

An in-house pharmacist on the GP surgery team leaves doctors with more time to practice medicine, rather than dealing with tasks such as repeat prescriptions or scheduling medication overhaul appointments.

What’s next?

A further 1500 clinical pharmacists will be invited to join GP practices by the deadline of 2020/21. This ambitious clinical staffing target may well rely on help from experts in this area of recruitment, such as

This scheme is one of several intended to help improve the patient experience, while also making the extended training needed to be a GP more attractive to new doctors. It should reduce pressure on front line services which are very often misused due to the over-long wait time for contact with a health professional.

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