Community pharmacist Crispin Bliss delivering integrated care at Jaunty Springs Medical Practice
The National Pharmacy Association (NPA) is calling for the roll out of a model of care that could release millions of GP appointments nationwide, after a Sheffield pharmacy freed up appointments in a nearby GP practice by conducting medication reviews in the pharmacy and providing other dedicated support to the practice.
A new report on the scheme shows that if every pharmacy in England were to provide one day a week of such support it could free up 18 million GP appointments a year. The report is on the work between Basegreen Pharmacy and Jaunty Springs Medical Practice in Sheffield. It supports the NPA’s long held view that pharmacy should be the main point of medicines care for patients with long-term conditions, not the surgery.
NPA chairman, Nitin Sodha, said: “On average there is one GP-based pharmacist for 30,000 patients, which is nowhere near the scale required to meet current and future demand. In comparison, in Sheffield, the ratio was one community pharmacist for a practice population of 3,500, plus the added resource of the pharmacy support staff.
"Since NHS England has invested heavily in the General Practice Pharmacist Scheme, there is surely a strong justification for investment in pharmacy-based schemes which deliver similar benefits but can cater for many more patients, conveniently and probably at lower cost. It is time for NHS England to review this alternative model in more detail and ensure funding is allocated from the Pharmacy Integration Programme to support the fuller deployment of the community pharmacy network.”
Pharmacist Garry Myers, who is the owner of the pharmacy and an executive partner in the surgery, said that without support from the pharmacy the surgery could have closed.
“The experience of working in this way was beneficial for Basegreen Pharmacy and Jaunty Springs Medical Practice, which may not have survived without this partnership, as it was being overwhelmed by the needs of the local population," he said. "But above all, it’s been great for patients in the area, who have benefited from the improved access to medicines support. We have adopted the successful principle that any patient that could be well managed by the community pharmacist should be referred there to reduce practice workload, improve the patient experience and encourage positive patient attitudes towards self-care.”