2015 in review: Pharmacists in GP practices

Elaine Thomson - SPB MemberBy Elaine Thomson MFRPSII MRPharmS, Locality Team Leader and Scottish Pharmacy Board Member

It’s been an interesting year. We’ve had the crisis in general practice and the review of out of hours services. We’ve had the announcement of additional funding in Scotland for pharmacists to work with GP practices. All of this against the background of evolving health and social care integration in Scotland. I’ve been working in GP practices for 15 years
so I’m watching the developments around the GP practice model, both north and south of the border, very closely.

Getting the balance right between optimising the clinical skills of pharmacists to improve outcomes for patients and the expectations of GPs that pharmacists can reduce their workload is crucial. I’m very happy that the position statement issued by the RPS in Scotland focuses on our unique skills in pharmaceutical care that will further integrate pharmacists into Primary Care teams.

As the role develops we will have to ensure that pharmacists develop appropriate advanced clinical skills and extend  their practice to take on more  caseload management of complex patients.  As a pharmacist already working in GP practices, I welcome this direction of travel. Although it can be challenging, supporting people to get the best from their medicines is also very rewarding. RPS has developed a number of useful resources that will help pharmacists wishing to work with GP practices and these will be accessible through the new hub.

The important word for me is with.  There is huge potential for pharmacists irrespective of sectoral base to improve care for patients and support Primary Care in a variety of ways.  The Primary Care Fund is to improve access to services for people in the community and one way to do that is by giving community pharmacists access to patients records. I went to an integration event in Edinburgh last month and I could not resist the opportunity to do a bit of campaigning. Everybody we speak to thinks it’s a no-brainer, so watch this space.

There’s a lot of good stuff going on already across the country, as highlighted at the joint NES/RPS event in Edinburgh in May. Opportunities abound for pharmacists and the wider pharmacy team to continue and develop that work and I’m looking forward to seeing what 2016 will bring.

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