Allowing pharmacists to refer patients to hospital could drive up activity, GP warns

Proposals to overhaul prescribing training for pharmacists and allow them to refer patients direct to hospital would need 'vigorous' monitoring and could lead to unnecessary hospital visits, a senior GP has warned.

GPC prescribing subcommittee chair Dr Andrew Green (Photo: JH Lancy)
GPC prescribing subcommittee chair Dr Andrew Green (Photo: JH Lancy)

The Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) report said that pharmacists should be able to prescribe routinely for patients with long-term conditions and refer them direct to other healthcare professionals - including hospital consultants - rather than always via a GP.

The report argued that all pharmacists providing direct patient care should be given the chance to train as prescribers and to refer patients to other clinicians to help reduce 'unnecessary' GP appointments. It called for a relaxation of the current requirement for pharmacists training as prescribers to be mentored by doctors, to allow senior nurses and pharmacists to oversee their training.

The RPS argues that doctors' availability to mentor pharmacist prescribers is too limited to allow the workforce to grow fast enough.

GPC prescribing subcommittee chairman Dr Andrew Green said that the BMA backed much of the report, and that GP leaders had been 'consistent advocates for a wider role for pharmacists'. He reiterated the GPC stance that pharmacists with extended roles were 'most effective when fully integrated with practice-based teams'.

GP prescribing

Dr Green added: 'It is true that the requirement for all non-medical providers to have a doctor mentor during training is a difficulty, but any change to this requirement would require very vigorous measures to ensure that quality is maintained.

'In many areas patients can self-refer to allied professions such as physiotherapists and for pharmacists to be able to do so would be welcomed, but I have concerns about referral to consultants as many practices have GPs with clinical interests and by-passing the practice may result in unnecessary activity.

'Opticians do have direct referral arrangements in many areas for acute eye problems and cataracts, but these conditions are very specific and I struggle to map these over to a community pharmacy situation.'

Launching the report this week RPS England chair Sandra Gidley said the time had come for a 'radical reform of how care is provided' for patients with long-term conditions.

'We can’t continue with the current model which doesn’t serve patients well and puts GPs under intolerable pressure,' she said.

Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Register

Already registered?

Sign in

Follow Us:

Just published

Almost 4,000 GPs rejoin GMC register as COVID-19 deaths surge

Almost 4,000 GPs rejoin GMC register as COVID-19 deaths surge

Around 3,800 GPs have rejoined the medical register barely a week after the government...

Prime minister Boris Johnson and health secretary Matt Hancock infected with COVID-19

Prime minister Boris Johnson and health secretary Matt Hancock infected with COVID-19

Prime minister Boris Johnson and health and social care secretary Matt Hancock are...

'Lovely' Essex GP feared to be first UK doctor to die from COVID-19

'Lovely' Essex GP feared to be first UK doctor to die from COVID-19

An Essex GP is feared to have become the first UK doctor to die after being infected...

How PCNs are adapting to the COVID-19 pandemic

How PCNs are adapting to the COVID-19 pandemic

Primary care networks (PCNs) are hosting virtual training sessions and re-writing...

Guidance updated for pregnant healthcare staff in coronavirus outbreak

Guidance updated for pregnant healthcare staff in coronavirus outbreak

All GPs who are pregnant should have the choice to stop work in patient-facing roles...

More than 550 GPs sign up within 24 hours to support NHS111

More than 550 GPs sign up within 24 hours to support NHS111

More than 550 GPs have signed up within 24 hours to take calls for NHS 111 as the...