Primary care organisations (PCOs) should consider prioritising joint bids from GPs and pharmacists over those that come from GPs alone when planning their services, the chairman of the RCGP has said.
Speaking as part of a New Statesman debate on primary care, Professor Steve Field said that closer working between practices and pharmacies was the best way to ensure patients were seeing the appropriate professionals.
'The future will be aggregations of practices and pharmacists and other healthcare professions working together,' he said.
He said one way to incentivise closer working would be to 'prioritise joint bids for work between pharmacists and GPs'.
'If you had a joined-up system and you encourage that through the commissioning cycle, I think the world would be a better place,' he added.
Deputy GPC chairman Dr Richard Vautrey said PCOs paid pharmacists for some services out of the same funding streams as they pay GPs, 'so there is some sense in trying to collaborate'.
But he added that enthusiasm for Professor Field's proposal was likely to vary, depending on geography and the range of services on offer. 'Some PCOs will want to see competition developing, while others see more benefit in collaboration,' he said.
Dr James Kingsland, president of the NAPC, said that while co-location had its benefits, creating a formal relationship between GPs and pharmacists could require legislation.
'I sometimes wish we could focus on making what we've got work, instead of constantly developing new models,' he added.
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