GPs need enhanced service funding to employ pharmacists, says GPC

GPs should be offered enhanced service funding to employ pharmacists, according to the deputy chairman of the GPC.

Dr Richard Vautrey: backs GPs employing pharmacy staff (Photo: JH Lancy)
Dr Richard Vautrey: backs GPs employing pharmacy staff (Photo: JH Lancy)

The comments come after the RCGP and the Royal Pharmaceutical Society unveiled radical plans for practices across England to employ pharmacists as part of their practice teams, in a bid to ease soaring pressure on GP services.

GPC deputy chairman Dr Richard Vautrey told GP that he would like to see funding offered to practices under enhanced services deals, in a similar way to PMS growth money provided in the past for practices to employ additional nurses or GPs.

'With PMS funding, if you had an extra practice nurse or GP, funding followed,' he said. 'It would be perfectly possible to have a similar type of scheme. Some CCGs have that already.'

GPs can employ pharmacists

Dr Vautrey added that another alternative could be for practices not to employ pharmacists directly, but to have 'resources available to provide access to a practice-based pharmacist', potentially with a CCG employing staff shared across practices, or funding for practices to bring in a pharmacist for specific clinics.

'The challenge at the moment is that there are simply not enough GPs around,' Dr Vautrey said. 'Even if there were enough resources, we can’t recruit GPs. This is not an excuse for not funding general practice properly in the long term, so we have resources when GPs are available. But we do know there are pharmacists who are available and practices have benefited from having them in place.'

He said some CCGs had expanded prescribing teams working with practices, while others had 'local enhanced service-type schemes, providing practices with funding they use to take on pharmacy technicians or pharmacists to do work in the practice.'

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