NHS England has said it will fund 160 more pharmacists to work in GP surgeries, taking the total number to over a thousand across more than 3,000 practices.
The announcement was made somewhat enthusiastically on the NHS England website which exclaimed that “nearly 34 million patients will benefit from improved GP services as NHS England boosts the number of surgery-based clinical pharmacists that can offer expert medication and treatment.”
NHS England’s continued use of the term ‘clinical pharmacists’ however drew ire on social media, Graham Phillips, the owner of Manor Pharmacy Group, tweeting: “Call it what it is: GP Practice pharmacist; hijacking the word “clinical” is divisive, tautological and unhelpful. I will call you out EVERY time you do it.”
The funding pledge will see the number of pharmacists working in general practice rise from 580 to more than 1,100 across 3,200 GP practices. That, NHS England said, equated to “over 40% of surgeries in the country.”
The scheme has so far been a success. Pharmacists working in surgeries have offered clinical advice on patients’ use of medicines and provided face-to-face consultations with them on managing long-term conditions such as high blood pressure.
Dr Arvind Madan, NHS England director of primary care, said: “The clinical pharmacist programme has proven to be a hugely popular with practices, patients and pharmacists themselves.
“Clinical pharmacists have a wealth of knowledge and skills to offer great patient care, in a more convenient way and are also taking some of the pressure off GPs, particularly at this time of year when we know demand is even greater than usual.”
NHS England, who are working with the Royal Pharmaceutical Society to support the roll-out of the GP-pharmacist programme, is looking for applications for the next stage of the scheme which has a deadline of January 19.