Pharmacists interviewed in a British Journal of General Practice (BJGP) study said they envisioned filling a ‘proactive role’ managing and optimising medicines to help alleviate pressure on GP workload in the future.
This could include reducing polypharmacy to safer levels in vulnerable patients and monitoring medications that could lead to adverse events, the study concluded, after interviewing 15 pharmacists.
Newly-qualified pharmacists and those with less experience of working in primary care were the most willing to engage with training and with career opportunities for extended roles in general practice, they found.
Complex diagnostic decisions would still be ‘passed on’ to GPs, respondents said, but they were willing to be more adaptable in future.
‘I think if the government, the NHS, are serious about trying to manage the resources that they’ve got, then there have to be changed roles for people; people coming out of their boxes and breaking down the barriers,’ one respondent said.
Training to help develop the pharmacist’s role in general practice should include clinical skills teaching set in context through exposure to general practice and ‘delivered motivationally’ by primary care providers.
The researchers, from the University of Exeter, said: ‘Participants’ perceptions varied by degree of experience of working in primary care, and by current working role.
‘All participants recognised challenges and uncertainties regarding the future direction of the role, and their degree of experience, along with the training they received, influenced their confidence for this type of work.
‘There were also several perspectives regarding the skills, knowledge, and attitudes required for a role in primary care, as well as the potential outcomes that might be achieved. However, all participants appeared willing to contribute to the relief of workload pressures on GPs and on the primary care team.’