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prescription bagsJuly 29 2015

A new report is recommending the greater use of pharmacy teams in dealing with minor ailments and optimising medicines to help alleviate general practice pressures.

The Primary Care Workforce Commission is proposing there should be agreed protocols for treatment and referral between local organisations of pharmacists and GP practices. It is also calling for federations of pharmacies to work with larger groupings of general practices to extend the scope of care provided in the community and to improve coordination of care.

“It is increasingly recognised that the traditional small, independent ‘corner shop’ model of general practice and community pharmacy can no longer fully meet the needs of patients,” says the report.

“Practices will need to be linked in networks, federations or large practices (‘super-practices’) or as part of multi-speciality community providers. This will enable them to provide a wider range of services, to offer better opportunities for staff development and training, and to work more effectively with commissioners, specialists, hospitals and social services.”

The PCWC was set up by Health Education England at the request of Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt. It has been asked to identify and highlight innovative models of primary care that will meet the future needs of patients and the NHS. Its conclusions and recommendations are set out in the report ‘The future of primary care: Creating teams for tomorrow’.

Other recommendations include making greater use of clinical pharmacists, including prescribing pharmacists in the management of people on long-term medication and people in care homes.

“Care for people in nursing and residential homes should be organised so that all patients in a home are cared for by one GP practice, except where a resident asks to be registered with a different practice. Likewise, one community pharmacy, ideally linked to the practice, should provide advice on safe prescribing and medicines use in each home,” it says.

Among the recommendations relating to education and training, the report says: “Pre and post-registration placements in primary care should be commissioned as part of routine training for nurses and pharmacists as they are for medical students and GPs.

“The number of pre-registration pharmacy placements needs to increase in order to meet the enhanced role for pharmacists identified in this report. These placements should include experience in community pharmacies and in general practices as well as in hospitals.”

Professor Martin Rowland chaired the Commission, which included Professor Nick Barber who founded the UCL School of Pharmacy’s Department of Practice and Policy.

“The commission aimed to identify solutions that would meet the present and future needs of the NHS and, if our recommendations are carried out, we believe that many of the current problems in primary care could be addressed,” said Prof Rowland.

“Focusing on care provided in general practice, community pharmacy and community nursing, our aim was to identify ways in which primary care could develop so that patients could continue to be confident that they would receive high quality primary care.

“We also wanted to identify ways forward that would result in primary care increasingly becoming the career of choice for young doctors, nurses and pharmacists.”

Responding to the report, Professor Maureen Baker, chair of the Royal College of General Practitioners, welcomed the report’s “backing of new models of care, particularly federations, which the College pioneered, and which we are currently involved in mapping out across the country.

“We are also open to widening the skill-mix in general practice, with the introduction of roles such as practice-based pharmacists to take on some of the tasks that do not necessarily need to be done by a GP,” she said. “These will never be a substitute for GPs so any new roles, such as medical assistants, must be properly piloted and evaluated to ensure that they can add value to patient care in general practice.”

Links:

HEE Primary Care Workforce Commission    

PCWC report: ‘The future of primary care: Creating teams for tomorrow’    

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