GP shortages now so bad that pharmacists will be drafted in to treat patients in surgeries

Lizzie Parry and The Press Association report for The Mail 17th March 2015: GP shortages now so bad that pharmacists will be drafted in to treat patients in surgeries 

The Rationing of numbers of doctors is evident to all, and the risk is that Pharmacists might be tempted to make a diagnosis. If this happens there will be more litigation… But Dr Porter is correct, and pharmacists could take away a lot of the trivial consultations that GPs are forced to do. Work expands to fill the time available (Parkinson’s Law), and NHSreality predicts that the good suggestion will make no difference in the long run… without co-payments. It might impact badly on the litigation funds, and needs no-fault compensation to be financially “safe”..

Kat Lay in The Times reports: Pharmacists drafted in to help at GP surgeries

Pharmacists will be drafted in to GP surgeries to help combat the dearth of family doctors under plans to be unveiled today.

The proposals could see patients — particularly those with long-term conditions such as asthma or diabetes — offered an appointment with a pharmacist when they ring their surgery.

The move would cut the time patients have to wait to get an appointment and could address a current oversupply of pharmacists, experts said.

It would also combat problems caused by a rapid rise in patients on multiple drugs by using pharmacists’ expertise to ensure combinations of medicines were not allowed to become harmful or ineffective, according to the Royal College of General Practitioners and Royal Pharmaceutical Society….

Dr Mark Porter for the BMA comments:

I think this is a great idea. Despite numerous attempts over the years to integrate pharmacists into the primary care team, it has never quite worked out and their expertise remains under-used by the health service.

A significant proportion of my daily workload centres on medication and prescribing issues and it would be great to have a pharmacist to help me. Not only would it free me to see more patients, it would almost certainly lead to better medicine management and happier patients experiencing fewer side-effects.

The role of pharmacists in managing illness is less clear-cut. There is plenty that they could offer here — as many already do in high street pharmacies and on hospital wards — although it may require a change of mindset for some.

Many retail pharmacists have been brought up in an environment where evidence-based practice takes a back seat to commercial pressures. They may deny it, but why else would they peddle so many products (from cough medicines to flower remedies) that simply do not work?

Not everything needs a remedy, and not all remedies help. If they get behind that NHS mantra, pharmacists could become an even more important asset than they already are.


This entry was posted in A Personal View, General Practitioners, pharmacists, Rationing, Stories in the Media on by .

About Roger Burns - retired GP

I am a retired GP and medical educator. I have supported patient participation throughout my career, and my practice, St Thomas; Surgery, has had a longstanding and active Patient Participation Group (PPG). I support the idea of Community Health Councils, although I feel they should be funded at arms length from government. I have taught GP trainees for 30 years, and been a Programme Director for GP training in Pembrokeshire 20 years. I served on the Pembrokeshire LHG and LHB for a total of 10 years. I completed an MBA in 1996, and I along with most others, never had an exit interview from any job in the NHS! I completed an MBA in 1996, and was a runner up for the Adam Smith prize for economy and efficiency in government in that year. This was owing to a suggestion (St Thomas' Mutual) that practices had incentives for saving by being allowed to buy rationed out services in the following year.

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