NHS England has recruited more than 700 clinical pharmacists in GP practices, as of December 2017.

NHS England told The Pharmacist’s sister publication Pulse that 734 clinical pharmacists – 490 full-time equivalent (FTE) pharmacists – had been recruited to primary care in four waves through the General Practice Forward View (GP Forward View) since September 2015.

The GP Forward View, launched in 2016, commits to invest an extra £2.4bn to support general practice services by 2020/21, according to NHS England.

Pharmacists in practices

An NHS England spokesperson told Pulse: ‘As at 31 December 2017, NHS Digital report 1,009 clinical pharmacists – or 658 FTE – were actively working in general practice, an increase of 734 (490 FTE) since September 2015.’

NHS England first invited practices to bid for funding to employ a pharmacist in January 2017, with the first two waves benefitting around 783 practices.

The funding, which is worth £122m, will see an extra 1,500 pharmacists working in general practice by 2020/21, with further four recruitment waves between April and February 2019.

The NHS England spokesperson said: ‘The approved applications across phase one and two of the clinical pharmacist programme mean nearly 34 million patients across circa 3000 practices will benefit from improved GP services.’

They added that NHS England is ‘on track to spend the £112m in full’.

Tackling ‘adverse incidents’

British Medical Association (BMA)'s GP committee chair Dr Richard Vautrey told Pulse that ‘investing properly in pharmacists in every practice is an obvious way to reduce medicine related adverse incidents’.

He continued: ‘By doing so, not only does it save lives but also potentially reduce costs for the NHS.

'Whilst any additional recruitment to an expanded primary care team is welcome, even those practices that have benefitted from new staff have big concerns about the sustainability of the schemes as there is no recurrent funding to support these initiatives.

‘There is, therefore, an urgent need to identify recurrent funding to support a much wider roll-out.'

A version of this story was first reported in our sister publication Pulse.