Pharmacists must be able to routinely prescribe medicines for people with long-term conditions and refer them to secondary care, rather than sending them to a GP for a prescription, says the Royal Pharmaceutical Society.
A report by the RPS, which will be launched at the House of Commons on 30 November, calls for pharmacists to be able to refer directly to other healthcare professionals such as physiotherapists or hospital consultants, rather than having to advise patients to go back to their GP for referrals.
It also demands a change in policy regarding who can mentor a prescriber to enable more pharmacists to become prescribers. Currently just 6% (3,319) of the total number of 54,500 registered pharmacists are prescribers.
The move follows a new Cochrane review that revealed that non-GP prescribers just as ‘effective as regular medical prescribers’.
The RPS suggests that pharmacists could help manage patients with a stable condition but who require regular monitoring and changes to their medication to stay well.
RPS England chair Sandra Gidley said: “We can’t continue with the current model which doesn’t serve patients well and puts GPs under intolerable pressure dealing with patients who could be treated by pharmacists with the right training.”
The Patients Association chief executive Katherine Murphy said: “Being able to speak to a local pharmacist could mean that patients are able to access the right care closer to home or their workplace; completely removing the challenges of booking an appointment with a GP, cutting out waiting times and taking out the worry for many patients who get anxious visiting a surgery.”