Pharmacists in five Hastings surgeries could ease GP pressures

Health news. Photo: Shutterstock SUS-150730-111621001
Health news. Photo: Shutterstock SUS-150730-111621001

Patients in five GP practices will soon have access to advice from a pharmacist when they visit their surgery – thanks to a new scheme.

The five surgeries, which include Beaconsfield Road Surgery – which will lead the project – Dr Chopras Roebuck Surgery and Station Practice in Hastings, and Silver Springs Medical Practice and Churchwood Medical Practices in St Leonards, will be part of a pilot scheme to recruit and employ pharmacists in practices and support the GP workforce.

NHS England has more than doubled funding from £15m to £31m to employ clinical pharmacists for the scheme after an to ‘overwhelmingly positive response’ from GP surgeries.

The five Hastings surgeries are among 73 applications which will receive a share of the funding, which will cover 698 GP practices and include 403 clinical pharmacists in England.

The surgeries were chosen by regional teams based on their ‘potential’ to help more patients in the area access health care.

A spokeswoman for NHS England, said: “Examples of the benefits patients can expect include extra help to manage long-term conditions, specific advice for those with multiple medications and more access to clinical advice on treatments.”

She said the scheme should also help to reduce the workload for GPs and give the pharmacists the opportunity to work alongside other medical staff.

Simon Stevens, NHS England chief executive said: “Joint working between pharmacists and GPs has the potential to have major benefits for both patients and clinical professionals.

“This pilot will be a win-win for GPs, pharmacists and patients.

“By testing these new ways of working across professional boundaries we are taking another step forward to relieving some of the pressure that GPs are clearly under and ensuring patients see the health professional that best suits their needs.”

Sandra Gidley, chairman of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society English Board said: “This extra investment of £16m in the pilot is fantastic news.

“It’s a real vote of confidence in the pharmacy profession and a huge step towards the integration of pharmacists into primary care.

“NHS England’s support in evolving the role of the practice pharmacist will prove enormously valuable to both patients and other clinicians.

“More patients will see at first-hand the difference a practice pharmacist can make to their health and more GPs will come to regard them as an essential part of the multidisciplinary team in their practice.”

Pharmacists are already being recruited to the surgeries and are set to begin work in spring 2016. The scheme is also set to benefit ten GP surgeries in Brighton and Hove.

If the pilots are successful, the scheme could be rolled out to more surgeries.