Improving care for patients, making the best use of pharmacists’ skills and saving money for the NHS were top of the agenda on the Health Minister David Mowat’s visit to Hillview GP Surgery recently.
The GP surgery, in Perivale, Ealing, North West London, has its own practice pharmacist and an on-site pharmacy, and is taking part in the NHS England clinical pharmacists in GP pilot as part of the Ealing GP Federation.
The Ealing GP Federation pilot has reported that engaging a practice pharmacist and pharmacy team has saved one participating practice up to £28,000 a year so far, resulting from releasing valuable GP time of up to one hour per GP per day, in a practice with ten GPs. This equates to a saving of a whole time equivalent GP at that practice. Having a GP practice pharmacist allows patients dedicated time with a staff member who is an expert in the use of medicines to explore solutions to complex medical conditions.
Minister for Primary Care David Mowat said: “GP surgeries like Hillview are leading the way by making great use of pharmacists skills to provide a better service for patients. That’s why we are absolutely committed to having 1500 more pharmacists working in GP surgeries up and down the country by 2020. We are already seeing the value that these pharmacists are bringing by seeing patients in timely and appropriate consultations that benefit the patient and make the best use of GPs’ time.”
Integrating pharmacists into GP surgeries is a key part of the Government’s £42 million pharmacy modernisation pledge announced in October 2016, and Hillview are already ahead of the game, with practice pharmacist, Yaksheeta Dave and on-site community pharmacist Reena Patel working closely together to manage patients with complex conditions who require many different types of medication.
The surgery has over 800 diabetic patients on its books, so it is more important than ever to have the dedicated support of a practice pharmacist to work as part of the core team to handle long-term conditions.
Graham Stretch, Senior Pharmacist for the clinical pharmacists in GP pilot in Ealing, explained to the Minister how his team provides leadership on best use of medicines, takes an active role in patient care plans as well as ensuring that general practice integrates with the wider healthcare teams in 12 practices and 23 nursing homes across the borough.
Sandra Gidley, RPS English Pharmacy Board Chair said: "I was delighted that the Minister was able to see for himself that practice based pharmacists can not only take the pressure off their GP colleagues but can also improve links with local community pharmacists. In this way the GPs have more time for the more complex patients and community pharmacists are much better utilised".
During the visit, the Minister observed a complex medication review between practice pharmacist, Yaksheeta Dave, and patient Bilkis Mohamedy, as well as talking to surgery staff and patient champions, who outlined the benefits of having a practice pharmacist and an on-site pharmacy.
Patient Bilkis Mohamedy said: "It can be very complicated knowing what medications to take, so meeting with the amazing team here has been so helpful. They have explained things so clearly I now feel more confident with my health and my mind is at ease."
David Mowat also met with key members of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society and NHS England pharmacy teams, led by Ravi Sharma, clinical programme lead, to discuss the wider pharmacy integration agenda, where the benefits of joint working and the increasingly flexible electronic prescriptions service in particular were highlighted.