Bidding opens for £112m clinical pharmacists in general practice pilot

GP providers serving populations of more than 30,000 patients can bid from this week for a share of £112m under a pilot scheme to increase numbers of clinical pharmacists working in general practice.

Pharmacists in GP practices can be independent prescribers
Pharmacists in GP practices can be independent prescribers

Bidding for funding opened on 9 January for the scheme, which aims to help recruit an extra 1,500 clinical pharmacists to general practice by 2020/21.

The scheme will offer successful bidders £60,000 over three years towards the cost of recruiting and employing a clinical pharmacist, and £73,000 over three years for a senior clinical pharmacist.

Funding is front-loaded under the scheme and tapers off over the three-year period, with 60% of costs covered in year one, 40% in year two and 20% in the third year.

General practice at scale

Providers must demonstrate that they are working 'at scale', serving populations of at least 30,000 patients to be eligible for funding for a clinical pharmacist.

A specification published by NHS England says that clinical pharmacists employed under the pilot scheme 'must be embedded within the practices and be fully integrated members of the clinical multi-disciplinary team, having access to other healthcare professionals, electronic "live" and paper-based record systems, access to admin/office support and training/development opportunities. They will be involved in the practice’s review and appraisal process.'

Senior clinical pharmacists are expected to be independent prescribers, or working towards a qualification to become one, and NHS England 'recommends that clinical pharmacists will have been qualified for at least two years and will be independent prescribers by 2020/21'.

GP supervision

Senior clinical pharmacists should receive a minimum of one supervised session with a GP clinical advisor every three months. They in turn can oversee the work of up to five clinical pharmacists.

Both the BMA and RCGP welcomed the scheme when it was unveiled last month. The BMA warned that it could help ease pressure on general practice, but only if the government delivered on wider promises set out in the GP Forward View.

BMA GP committee executive team member Dr Mark Sanford-Wood said the scheme was 'encouraging'. But he added:  ‘The government needs to rapidly implement all of its promises connected to the GP Forward View, so that the clinical pharmacist scheme is put into place alongside concerted efforts to deliver all the GP Forward View commitments and provide GP practices with the support they so desperately need.’

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