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independent prescribingJuly 1 2015

The Scottish Government has announced funding of £16.2 million for pharmacist independent prescribers over the next three years.

It will be allocated to recruit up to 140 new pharmacists with advanced clinical skills training to work directly with GP practices to support the care of patients with long-term conditions.

The funding is part of a wider £50m investment in primary care services announced last week. A further £10m, announced in May, will be used to develop primary care mental health services “to encourage innovative ways of encouraging better identification and management of patients with mental health needs in the community”, says the Scottish Government.

Last week, the Royal Pharmaceutical Society in Scotland published a position statement, proposing how pharmacists can be employed alongside GPs in general practice. It has now welcomed the announcement about the Primary Care Fund.

Alex MacKinnon, the RPS Director for Scotland, said: “Just a few days ago we published our position statement on pharmacists working in GP practices. This investment in pharmacist independent prescribers is welcome news and particularly encouraging in helping to improve access to pharmaceutical care.

“Our driving principle is that all patients should have access to pharmaceutical care. Equally we believe that GP practices, including dispensing practices, should have access to the expertise of a pharmacist.

“The pharmacist should be patient facing in their role first and foremost, and included in both the decisions and governance of practice prescribing to improve patient care. Pharmacist input could be sessional or full time and could be achieved with both generalist and specialist input using primary, community or secondary care pharmacists working in or with the practice, according to local needs.”

Scotland’s Health Secretary Shona Robison said that new investment was the beginning of the process towards designing primary care services for the future. “Primary care services play a hugely important role in looking after the health of the nation, and GPs in particular are vital in delivering front line healthcare services in the community,” she said.

“However, I acknowledge that many GPs find workload and recruitment issues challenging, and we’ll keep working with the profession to address this. The Primary Care Fund provides an initial impetus to encourage GPs to try new ways of working over the next three years, helping to address the problems of recruitment and retention that are common to primary care services across the UK.”

Dr Alan McDevitt, Chair of the BMA’s Scottish GP Committee, welcomed the investment in pharmacist prescribers. “As health and social care integration structures develop, investment in leadership training will provide GPs with additional skills to influence the design and delivery of community services for their patients,” he said.

“The recruitment of additional pharmacists working directly with GPs will provide much needed support and I would hope that in the long term this investment could be extended so that every practice in Scotland would be able to have a practice-based pharmacist.”

Other aspects being developed with the funding include:

  • Digital Services Development Fund - £6 million will be allocated to support and accelerate the use of digital services by GP practices
  • Pachymeters for Optometrists - £1.5 million will be spent purchasing pachymeters for all optometrists in Scotland, to screen for patients suspected of developing glaucoma.
  • Scottish School of Primary Care - £1.25 million will be invested in a ‘virtual school’ which encourages and co-ordinates a cohesive programme of research and training of primary care in Scotland.

Links:

Scottish Government announcement    

RPS in Scotland comment    

Today’s Pharmacist coverage of RPSiS views on pharmacists working in general practice    

Practice News

July 31 2018 General practices employing pharmacists are citing improved capacity to see patients and workload changes as the main benefits of the scheme.
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