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‘Army of pharmacists’ set to relieve GP pressure

Pharmacists should be employed in-house at GP practices across England, according to plans put forward by the Royal College of General Practice (RCGP).

The proposals would see an “army” of pharmacists directly treating patients with common ailments, providing health advice and being able to prescribe medication once extra training had been completed.

The initiative reflects the juxtaposition in modern Britain between a dwindling number of GP’s and a rising surplus of pharmacists – many of whom are qualified to prescribe medicine.


GPS pharmacists


Managing long term conditions

Patients visiting GP’s with long term health issues such as asthma and high blood pressure could be put before a pharmacist, according to these innovative plans seeking to relieve pressure on GP waiting lists.

The change would concern a large conglomerate of patients who have already been diagnosed with long-term health conditions, and whose main reason for attending the surgery is medicine-related.

A recent survey of one practice found that GPs were spending around an hour a day on medicines management.


No quick fix

Dr Maureen Baker, chairwoman of the RCGP, said: “Even if we were to get an urgent influx of extra funding and more GPs, we could not turn around the situation overnight due to the length of time it takes to train a GP

“Yet we already have a ‘hidden army of highly trained pharmacists who could provide a solution

“This isn’t about having a pharmacy premises within a surgery, but about making full use of the pharmacist’s clinical skills to help patients and the over-stretched GP workforce”

Understaffed surgeries coupled with elongated waiting times is an issue that continue to dominate the health debate. Most worryingly, this issue has arisen despite general practices recently receiving a £1bn boost from the NHS.

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