Primary care has come under greater pressure in recent years, with higher demands on GPs and patient waiting times increasing.
The number of people with three or more long term conditions (LTCs) was 1.9 million in 2008 and expected to rise to 2.9 million in 2018. In addition to this, between 30% and 50% of prescribed medicines for LTCs are not taken as recommended, compromising a person's ability to self manage their condition.
Pharmacists are an under-used resource that can make an immediate difference by freeing up GPs to manage more complex or demanding cases. Pharmacists are also experts in medicine optimisation and training people in their proper use. Two such examples are ensuring proper inhaler technique in asthma suffers and ensuring adherence to diabetes treatment, both interventions that improve outcomes and reduce downstream costs.
RPS believes that pharmacist-led care of people with long-term conditions will enable resources would be more cost-effective and would bring significant results to patients and the NHS:
- Waiting lists in urgent and emergency care and GP surgeries would be reduced
- People would be kept healthier for longer, reducing hospital admissions
- Medicines waste and over-prescribing would be reduced, and savings realised.
Pharmacist-led care of people with long term conditions is one of the themes of the RPS’s Shaping Pharmacy for the Future work.