Pharmacists call for broader role in managing long-term conditions

GP practices and pharmacies across England should draw up plans for pharmacists to take over partial or complete management of some patients with long-term conditions, a report suggests.

Pharmacists should be able to prescribe routinely for patients with long-term conditions and refer them direct to other healthcare professionals rather than always via a GP, according to the report by the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS).

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, the report says.

It calls for pharmacists to be given full read and write access to patient records, arguing that further integration of pharmacists into the multidisciplinary team can help improve prevention and management of long-term conditions.

Long-term conditions

The report points out that half of GP appointments are for patients with long-term conditions, suggesting that a broader role for pharmacists could play a huge part in easing pressure on general practice. It cites evidence from a recent Cochrane review that found non-medical staff with high levels of prescribing autonomy could operate as effectively as 'usual care medical prescribers'.

RPS England chair Sandra Gidley said: 'Our proposals mean pharmacists, working with GPs, hospital doctors, nurses and patients, will be central to taking on the challenges and improving the care of people with long-term conditions.

'The double whammy of an ageing population and the associated increase in the number of people living with one or more long-term conditions is pushing the NHS to crisis point. To cope with this demand we need a radical reform of how care is provided to this group of patients and the time has come for the government to enable this to happen.

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

GP workload

RCGP chair Dr Maureen Baker said: 'Pharmacists already offer an excellent service to patients and provide really valuable support to hard pressed GPs, so any recommendations to increase their involvement within general practice and to train them to become prescribers is welcome.

'Patient demand in general practice continues to grow significantly and our ageing population means that we are now seeing many more patients presenting with at least one long-term condition.

'As well as benefitting our patients, a more prominent role for pharmacists within general practice will also cut unnecessary appointments and free up GP time for those patients who need the knowledge and skills of an expert medical generalist.'

Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins


Already registered?

Sign in

Follow Us:

Just published

£20 notes spread out

VAT trap for PCNs could strip millions of pounds from general practice

Tens of millions of pounds could be stripped from general practice because work carried...

Talking General Practice logo

Podcast: Is the BMA representing GPs effectively, why GPs face a pension tax hit, and views on the workload crisis

In our regular news review the team discusses representation of GPs, a new survey...

Man sleeping

NICE guidance on insomnia backs app to replace sleeping pills

Hundreds of thousands of people with insomnia could be offered treatment via a mobile...

Health worker prepares a dose of COVID-19 vaccine

JCVI backs autumn COVID-19 booster campaign for high-risk adults and NHS staff

Frontline health and social care staff and adults at increased risk of severe illness...

GP consultation

Government accused of 'misleading' claims on general practice workforce

GP leaders have accused the government of making misleading claims about the general...

Consulting room door

LMC calls for enhanced access to be scrapped after abuse forces practice to close reception

A Midlands LMC has backed a practice forced to close its reception desk after abuse...