Exclusive: Half of GP practices could soon employ a pharmacist, poll suggests

Almost a third of GPs already employ a pharmacist in their practice and 16% are thinking of doing so, a GPonline poll has found.

The survey of almost 500 GPs found that 31% employ a pharmacist and that GPs are considering employing a wide range of extra non-GP clinical staff.

The GPonline opinion poll found that more than half of GPs think that increasing the skill mix in their practices could help address the current shortage of GPs.

However, more than one third (35%) said it was not part of the solution, while 12% were unsure.

General practice skill mix

Almost half (49.7%) of the GPs who responded to the poll said their practice employed a nurse practitioner, and 27% said they employed other non-GP staff who helped with clinical workload.

These included physiotherapists, mental health workers, phlebotomists, optometrists, chiropodists, midwives and counsellors.

One GP said: ‘We have a pharmacist and a nurse practitioner - both provide excellent additional workforce and capacity for the practice and improve patient care.’

One GP who employed a healthcare assistant commented: ‘She starts at 7am each day and alternate Saturdays and we would sink without her!’

Pharmacist role

Another said: ‘We already have two pharmacists and their role is vital. We have found them to be excellent in taking work off GPs and promoting quality improvement.’

The findings suggesting a high level of interest in employing pharmacists in general practice comes after NHS England doubled its investment in a scheme to recruit medicines experts in primary care.

NHS England upped investment in the scheme to recruit clinical pharmacists to work in GP practices from £15m to more than £30m. Earlier this year, the GP Forward View said that pharmacists were 'one of the most underutilised professional resources in the system and we must bring their considerable skills in to play more fully' in primary care.

Photo: iStock

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