A new report by the Royal Pharmaceutical Society has highlighted the work of a mobile pharmacy team in Bath and North East Somerset that provides patients with easy access to a pharmacist’s clinical expertise at their local GP practice in a similar way to what is available to patients in hospital.
The innovative model helps to reduce waiting times for GP appointments by ensuring that people are seen by the right person, in the right place, at the right time.
The team of mobile pharmacists in Bath and North East Somerset come from a variety of backgrounds including community pharmacies, local hospitals and those who are working in GP practices as their main career. The team operates approximately one session a week for each of the 27 GP practices in the BaNES area.
The pharmacists work as part of the general practice team, in the same way as practice nurses. They work closely with GPs and other colleagues to resolve day to day medicine issues, particularly for patients with long term conditions and who are taking a number of different medications. They also liaise with hospitals, community pharmacists and care homes to ensure seamless care for patients.
The service has been operating in Bath and North East Somerset for over six years but now the Royal Pharmaceutical Society are calling on other areas of the country to adopt the practice.
Dr Ian Orpen, Clinical Chair of the CCG and a local GP said:
“GPs and their teams are estimated to make 370m patient consultations this year and the level of demand is getting higher due to an ageing population and more patients living with long-term and complex conditions. But as demand has risen rapidly, the number of GPs in England has remained relatively stagnant.
“By contrast there is an over-supply of pharmacists who train as clinicians for five years – one year less than a doctor, one year more than a nurse – and they can step in to treat patients directly at the surgery.”
David Branford, Chair of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society English Board said:
“General practice is the foundation of the NHS but it needs proper resourcing and support. Having a pharmacist as part of the team can make a huge difference to both patients and clinical colleagues. Pharmacists can consult with and treat patients directly, relieving GPs of casework and enabling them to focus their skills where they are most needed, for example on diagnosing and treating patients with complex conditions.
“As part of the multidisciplinary team, pharmacists can advise other professionals about medicines, resolve problems with prescriptions and reduce prescribing errors. Pharmacists can also work with GPs to resolve day-to-day medicine issues and with practice teams to provide advice on medicines to care homes, as well as visiting patients in their own homes when needed.
“Pharmacists should be working in GP practices all over the country. It’s a win-win situation for everyone concerned.”
The full Royal Pharmaceutical Society report can be found at: