One in five GP practice-based pharmacists do not believe they are considered leaders on medicines or prescribing by the rest of their practice team, a report has revealed.

The Pharmacists’ Defence Association (PDA) surveyed 740 pharmacists working in general practice across the UK in May and June 2019.

The report, published yesterday (27 August), found that 20% of the 615 respondents to the question did not agree that ‘the wider team at the practice(s) where they worked perceived their role as providing leadership on medicines-related services and prescribing’.

However, more than three-quarters (77%) of 614 respondents to the question considered their role as including leadership on promoting safe prescribing and 76% of 616 respondents who answered felt that they were regarded as the ‘expert in medicines’ by patients.


‘Lack of integration’


One in five (20%) of the 616 respondents to the question felt they were not ‘adequately supported’ with training and supervision in their role, the PDA said.

Reasons for this inadequate support included a ‘lack of integration’ into practices – particularly when working across more than one – as well as a ‘lack of GP support or understanding as to the need for supervision’, the report added.

Funding for clinical supervision and access to training were also factors, according to the report.


PCN funding not enough


Two-thirds (66%) of respondents across the UK were paid a salary equivalent to band 8a or above, the report found.

Under the new GP contract, practices are provided with extra funding to join local primary care networks (PCNs) serving roughly 30-50,000 patients and to employ additional staff such as pharmacists.

NHS England has guaranteed to cover 70% of the costs of recruiting pharmacists to work in these PCNs in bands 7 to 8a, up to a maximum of £37,810.

However, the PDA report found that in England, 71% of 500 respondents were paid a salary equivalent to band 8a (defined as £43,042 - £49,969/ self-employed >£24 to £28/hr) or above.

More than a quarter (27%) reported salaries at bands 8b, 8c or above – equivalent to £49,970 or more.

A PDA spokesperson said: ‘[This] contrasts with the funding provided for PCN pharmacists posts, suggesting that practices may need to consider contributing more than 30% of a band 7 salary to secure an appropriately experienced pharmacist.’

Over 90% (92%) of the 500 respondents who answered had been registered for five years or more, the report found.


Other findings of the report include:

  • ‘Significant numbers are moving into the sector’, with 46% of respondents having worked in general practice for less than two years
  • 28% of respondents also currently work in the community sector alongside their practice work
  • An increasing proportion of pharmacists who work in general practice do not work across any other sectors (28% in 2017 compared with 46% in 2019)
  • Over 50% of practising GP pharmacists in England have not had access to the ‘clinical pharmacist’ training pathway
  • Job titles vary considerably across the UK, with the term ‘clinical’ reflected in job titles for 43% of respondents in England, compared with 28% in Scotland, 23% in Wales and 4% in Northern Ireland