GPs have mixed views about pharmacists having the authority of making changes to patients’ medicines, according to a recent study.
The study, published in the British Journal of General Practice, revealed that even the GPs who value pharmacists’ knowledge of medicines relatively high prefer to remain in control of the decisions.
The researchers at the Centre for Academic Primary Care at the University of Bristol interviewed thirteen GPs and ten pharmacists for the study.
They found GPs in practices that employed a pharmacist tended to value pharmacists’ professional expertise more compared to GPs without one.
Pharmacists who were not attached to a practice described some difficult relationship with GPs, where they felt poorly understood and underused.
The study further found that GPs have differences in opinion about the role of practice-employed pharmacists and mixed views about their value.
Dr Polly Duncan, lead author and a GP, said: “Many UK GP practices now employ a pharmacist to help with workload pressures but little is known about how GPs and pharmacists work together.
“Pharmacists could play an important role in making sure that patients who have multiple health problems are happy to take their medicines and that the benefits outweigh any potential harm or side effects.”
The study further revealed that GPs believe they do medicine reviews in a time-efficient way compared to pharmacists and don’t expect pharmacist-led reviews to have much impact on their workload.
“Our study suggests that building trusting relationships through face-to-face meetings between GPs and pharmacists is key to understanding and valuing one another’s expertise. This was a small qualitative study and more research is needed to establish the roles of practice pharmacists and whether they improve patient health outcomes,” Dr Duncan added.