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  • Writer's pictureDavid Harper

How To Make The Most Of GP Pharmacist Funding

GP surgeries throughout the country have recently been enjoying their own dedicated practice pharmacists thanks to a pilot scheme launched in July 2015. The initiative, part of General Practice Forward View sees the beginning of investment in GP pharmacist services which is expected to exceed £100 million.

The pilot has had fantastic feedback with over 78% of patients involved in the test saying that they had better access to services with a clinical GP pharmacist, and more than 69% feeling that they didn’t have to make an appointment to see the GP after speaking with a clinical pharmacist working in general practice.*

How Will GPFV Funding Help?

The NHS England funding has been made available to assist in the recruitment, training and development of a further 1,500 more clinical pharmacists in general practice by 2020, on top of the 490 who have already been placed during the pilot scheme. When the programme is fully implemented, this will allow for one extra general practice pharmacist per 30,000 people in England adding qualified services to overstretched surgeries and assisting in medicines management.

The available grants run for three years, covering 60% of the costs in the first year, 40% in the second and 20% in the third – a total of £60,000 for a Clinical Pharmacist and £73,000 for a Senior Clinical Pharmacist.

Applying For Funding

The first phase of applications for additional GP pharmacist grants through the GPFV are currently being processed. If you haven’t already applied, details are available on how to take part in this rolling programme. Applicants who are unsuccessful for whatever reason will get help from NHS England to ensure that all relevant resources are in place for a productive resubmission.

Part of the application requires that you describe how you intend to recruit your clinical pharmacist in general practice, once you have obtained funding. As a Practice Manager, you may be unfamiliar with the route to pharmacist recruitment and the relevant credentials that they require. Specialist agencies such as Pharmaseekers can help you find the right GP pharmacist, so please get in touch if you need steering in the right direction when completing this part of the form.

Pharmaseekers’ experience in recruiting pharmacists in general practice and community settings will make sure that your practice is paired with a suitable pharmacist who will work to benefit your administrative and medical staff as well as your patients.

What To Do If You’ve Already Secured Funding

You should start looking to fill your vacancy as soon as you know you are eligible for the grant. Many pharmacists will have to give 3 months’ notice in their current position before taking up their post as practice pharmacist. Recruiting a locum GP pharmacist will ensure that you can take advantage of the funding and the benefits of a pharmacist in general practice straight away.

Running a busy GP surgery, you’ll have plenty of other things to deal with rather than placing advertisements to fill your GP pharmacist vacancy. Pharmaseekers can help match you with a suitable permanent general practice pharmacist or interim locum GP pharmacist, depending on your needs. We can also help with cover during sickness or holidays of your regular in-practice pharmacist. We’ll present you with candidates who have been vetted for GPhC registration, right to work in the UK and DBS as well as those possessing good references, knowledge of appropriate additional qualified services, punctuality and a keenness to work in a new GP pharmacy role.

Why Do We Need Pharmacists in General Practice?

As medicines are progressing and illnesses are becoming more manageable, we’re living longer, most of us with a bit of help from the NHS. It’s thought that in 2016, GPs had an incredible 370 million consultations – that’s over 23% more than they did in 2011**. While the number of consultations has risen, the number of doctors, unfortunately, has not!

In their 5 years of training, pharmacists obtain much of the same knowledge as doctors in order that they may identify contraindications of the prescriptions they dispense and provide a valuable role in medication review and medicines optimisation. As part of their registration, they must also keep abreast of medical advances and new treatments. With these capabilities, it is hoped that pharmacists in GP surgeries will be able to ease some of the doctors’ workload.

What Are The Benefits Of A GP Pharmacist?

The abilities of community pharmacists have already been demonstrated through the additional qualified services that they offer at local pharmacies. They regularly treat minor ailments and provide monitoring and support for conditions such as diabetes or asthma without the need for GP intervention. Medicines such as Emergency Hormonal Contraception (EHC) and flu vaccinations can also be successfully administered directly by the community pharmacist, rather than practice nursing staff. Many pharmacists are also independent prescribers – a vital asset to any practice looking to ease the GPs’ workload.

These skills can be integrated into the role of a practice pharmacist who through medicines management will also be able to offer advice to patients taking several different medications at once, as well as inform surgery staff how to reduce waste and minimise costs.

So, the funding is ready to go, the GP pharmacists are raring to get to work, even the patients are onboard with the idea, what’s stopping you? If you need any help to find a suitable GP pharmacist for your practice, give Pharmaseekers a call.

* Survey undertaken by The Patients Association, on behalf of the Primary Care Pharmacists Association (PCPA).

**Source: The Patients Association.

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