Working together with GPs to improve patient care

RPS England Chair Thorrun Govind has written an open letter to the pharmacy profession calling on GPs and community pharmacists to work together for better patient care.

See her letter below:

As a profession, we often face disparaging comments which ignore the important role we play in patients’ lives. Over the last year I have seen our hospital pharmacists work under immensely stressful conditions; caring for Covid patients and worrying that they would bring Covid home to their families. I have mourned the colleagues that we have lost, whilst acknowledging the important role they played in their local communities. The last year has been incredibly challenging both personally and professionally, wherever we work in healthcare.

Up and down the country GPs and community pharmacists work together to support our patients. We know how valued pharmacists are by their GP colleagues, because we have seen the benefits, heard their feedback and witnessed the increasing number of posts for GP Pharmacists. 

There are huge benefits for collaboration between General Practice and community pharmacy, not just for patient care. But when we truly work together, we can achieve the very best outcome for patients. By working more closely together we can improve access to primary care by supporting patients who require advice and treatment for certain minor illness conditions in the pharmacy.

GPs are just as busy as we are, in their own way, so better interoperability would be better for all. Our sectors can work together to reduce these burdens, and the Community Pharmacist Consultation Service is a prime example of the kind of partnership that should be replicated across other aspects of primary care. General Practice teams are electronically referring patients with suspected minor or self-limiting illnesses to the pharmacy for a pharmacist consultation closer to their home and with an emphasis on self-care. The service means that pharmacy can help create capacity in General Practice for around 7 in 10 of all patients referred and we have already seen how it helps develop and support maturing relationships between community pharmacist and GP practice teams.  

We share so many of the same objectives with General Practitioners and I know we will be stronger if we work together. Primary care isn’t just community pharmacy and general practice though. We have a whole host of skilled professionals working together to help patients stay well. We know that patients need to feel fully supported and confident that they are getting the right care by the right person and at the right time.

To make this a reality, I am proposing a roundtable with RPS, RCGP and other Royal Colleges. The focus will be on primary care, discussing how we can better work together as we emerge from Covid. We need to better understand each other’s perspectives, hear each other speak and chart the best way forward to a post-Covid world.

When we work together the patient truly becomes our first concern.

Thorrun Govind, Chair of RPS England.