Funding allocated to paying for practice-based pharmacists through the GP Forward View (GPFV) programme should be extended, the GP body the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) has urged.
The GPFV was launched in 2016 to support general practice services with an extra £2.4bn a year in funding by 2020/21.
Among the key commitments, the Government invested £31m in deploying 470 pharmacists in more than 700 practices, which will be supplemented by an additional £112m to see a further 1,500 pharmacists in general practice by the end of the three-year programme.
In its second annual assessment of the GPFV, the RCGP called on the Government to continue to invest in GP pharmacists after the initial round of funding ends.
The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) said pharmacy integration programmes including the Pharmacy Integration Fund (PhIF) will continue to develop and be evaluated. This will inform future decisions and identify the most cost-effective opportunities to improve service quality and relieve pressure in other parts of the NHS, it said.
According to the document, the end of the funding for the employment of pharmacists is one of the key concerns about the GPFV scheme for many GPs.
The document said: ‘Many practices are concerned that they will not be able to afford to continue to employ their pharmacists once this funding ends, unless additional recurrent funding is provided practices to support this.
‘Funding of clinical pharmacists in general practice should be made recurrent, and the programme expanded to allow for more pharmacists, and therefore a better pharmacist: patient ratio.’
As of September 2017, there were 615 full time equivalent (FTE) GP pharmacists, with a total of 1,200 FTE pharmacists expected to be in post by the end of the summer, the RCGP said.
The document showed that GP pharmacists have a ‘significant impact on GP workload and efficiencies within practices, particularly in relation to medicines management and supporting patients with polypharmacy’.
A Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) spokesperson told The Pharmacist:
‘The positive feedback from many GPs, highlighted in the assessment of the GP Forward View, reinforces the invaluable position of practice-based pharmacists within general practice.
‘It’s encouraging to hear that the report suggested that practice-based pharmacists can have a significant impact within GPs’ workload and efficiency within practices, especially regarding the management of medicines and support of patients with polypharmacy.
‘We hope to see GPs and pharmacists continue to work together in these settings to enhance successful outcomes for all involved.’