PLACING clinical pharmacists in general practice improves efficiency and patient care and they should become an integral part of the primary care system, a new independent report funded by NHS England has stated. The investigation of a pilot project in which over 490 clinical pharmacists were placed into more than 650 general practices across England revealed that the presence of these health professionals not only reduced GP workloads, but also improved appointment capacity and patient outcomes.
In their analysis, the research team, which included experts from the University of Nottingham, Nottingham, UK, took into account the perspectives of pharmacists, those who worked alongside them during the project, stakeholders, and patients. Evaluation was made using a variety of methods including interviews, patient focus groups, and observational studies.
The report identified medication reviews as an area in which the work of the clinical pharmacists had a particularly significant impact. These were undertaken on a regular basis and they helped reduce pressures on GPs and alleviate appointment issues. Additionally, these reviews provided patients with vital medical education and usage advice, especially those with long-term conditions such as diabetes, asthma, and heart disease. This increased their understanding of the medications, which improved adherence. Patient outcomes were also improved in other ways, including through the provision of lifestyle advice and, in certain circumstances, even the deprescription of medicines, which has potential health and financial benefits.
“Unique and Valuable Contribution”
Dr Matthew Boyd, University of Nottingham, who led the research, commented: “Clinical Pharmacists have made a unique and valuable contribution to the primary care skill mix and for the first time as part of this study have become an embedded member of the practice at scale. They contribute significantly to patient safety, bring medicines and prescribing expertise and support with prescribing tasks, and provide support for patients with long-term conditions including support for healthy lifestyles.”
It is hoped that the benefits of the clinical pharmacologists outlined in this report will carry on being observed across other practices as the rollout of the programme continues. The authors also emphasised the importance of establishing education and training that prepares individuals for this particular career path.
James Coker, Reporter
For the source and further information about the study, click here.