Following the announcement of the Scottish Government’s Programme for Government 2015-16, Jim Hume, South of Scotland MSP (LD), led a members’ business debate on GP shortages.
During the debate the roles of practice-based and community pharmacists were raised on several occasions.
Chic Brodie, South of Scotland MSP (SNP), said: “Practice-based and community pharmacists are uniquely placed to work with GPs to improve patient care and safety and can play an important role in the long-term management of patients who have chronic diseases.”
“A number of initiatives across Scotland already promote collaborative working with community pharmacists, of which the Highland community pharmacy project is one example. There is also the Healthcare improvement Scotland national patient safety programme.” (Pharmacy in Primary Care Collaborative)
Malcolm Chisholm, Edinburgh Northern and Leith MSP (LAB), said: “To some extent, and in general terms, the Government has addressed that issue in the programme for government. It talked about developing clusters so that the skills and expertise of GPs are shared across practices, which is a good thing. However, we also need to embed general practice in the wider primary healthcare team and expand the wider primary care workforce, including practice-based pharmacists.”
Mark McDonald, Aberdeen Donside MSP (SNP), said: “I was interested by the comments on workload. I have spoken in the past about how we can better align primary care services in order to reduce GP workload by triaging people to other services if they can be more appropriately deal with their conditions – Malcolm Chisholm alluded to that. Some GP practices in my constituency do that; they speak to people when they request an appointment and redirect them to, for example, the pharmacy, if that is the more appropriate place for them to be seen.”
Speaking on the future of general practice and closing the debate, the Minister for Public Health, Maureen Watt MSP, said: “It is a future which is provided by multidisciplinary professional teams, and in which it is planned and delivered within the localities that need such teams. It is a future in which GPs are the expert medical generalists – the doctors who make the critical clinical decisions about their patients – but are not necessarily the first point of contact.”