An announcement to plough £112m into creating 1,500 pharmacist roles in general practice has the backing of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS).
The investment is part of a multi-billion pound scheme to rescue GPs from the brink of collapse.
The General Practice Forward View aims to get general practice back on its feet, improve patient care and access and invest in new ways of providing primary care.
Part of the plan is a commitment to enable every practice in England to access a pharmacist across a minimum population on average of 30,000 – leading to an extra 1,500 pharmacists in general practice over the next 5 years.
This cash injection is on top of the existing £31m investment by NHS England to co-fund around 450 pharmacist roles in general practice.
Commenting on the announcement Sandra Gidley, RPS England Board Chair said: “The creation of around 2,000 new jobs for pharmacists, in an era of austerity where value must be proven rather than assumed, shows a strong commitment to the profession from the very top of NHS England.
“GPs want to work alongside pharmacists, for pharmacists to be part of the team, alongside nurses, mental health workers and others.
“I know that many pharmacists, from all sectors, want this too – and now there is an opportunity for many more pharmacists to consider this option alongside more established roles.”
NHS England have stated that “appetite for the original pilot scheme was high” and have committed to rolling out the scheme so that every general practice can benefit from the clinical skills of a pharmacist.
Importantly NHS England will also open up the pharmacist training programme for practice based pharmacists to practices that have directly funded a pharmacist themselves.
Gidley is clear that the measures are sit apart from the £20m Pharmacy Integration Fund.
“Let me be 100% clear, the RPS believes that when it comes to pharmacists working in GP surgeries and pharmacists working in community pharmacies it is a case of “more, and” not “either, or”.
“There is recognition in this document of the massive role community pharmacy has in providing support for minor ailments, self-care and health promotion advice to the public. What is needed now is a detailed plan of how the role of community pharmacy can be further enhanced,” she said.
Meanwhile the Local Government Association’s community wellbeing spokeswoman, Cllr Izzi Seccombe, said: “Pumping money into the NHS while councils receive less social care and public health funding is a false economy that will make it harder to prevent illness and avoid the need for people to visits GPs in the first place.
“Councils, with their responsibility for public health, carry out a wide range of vital prevention services, tackling issues such as teenage pregnancy, excessive alcohol consumption, physical inactivity, sexually transmitted infections and substance misuse.
“It is these vital services which are essential to alleviate the pressure on the NHS.”