Did you know that there are now
Clinical Pharmacists in most GP practices
who can help you get the right care faster?
Most of us are familiar with our local pharmacies and the wonderful advice and support they can dispense along with prescriptions.
But just a moment….!
Before we talk about Clinical Pharmacists, who play a somewhat different role, can I please ask you to continue to support your local pharmacy if you have one and avoid using the online generic prescription services if possible. Many local pharmacies also provide a collection and delivery service albeit not as widely advertised as the quite aggressive marketing for the online options. Think about the time-honoured phrase: use it or lose it! We’ve seen that happen to Post Offices and pubs and the same could happen to local pharmacies if we do not use the superb services they offer.
So, what does the Clinical Pharmacist service mean?
What is the difference between a Clinical Pharmacist and your local pharmacist?
All pharmacists are clinically trained, but there are some very specific differences:
- Clinical Pharmacists will either be or training to become, independent prescribers whereas your local pharmacist can only dispense prescriptions provided by doctors.
- Clinical Pharmacists will have a direct customer-facing role and will be able to ‘‘clinically assess and treat patients using their expert knowledge of medicines for specific disease areas.’ This includes being able to take responsibility for managing the care of their practice’s patients with chronic diseases.
- Clinical Pharmacists will be able to help patients with complex needs get the best from their medication by reducing, when possible, the different types of medications prescribed: research shows that patients taking five or more different medications have a 50% chance of an adverse drug interaction. This will also reduce waste and therefore NHS costs. This role will extend to people in care homes and those with learning difficulties.
- Clinical Pharmacists should also ‘promote self-care.’ One would certainly hope this is aligned with the NHS commitment to social prescribing which, as yet, has not been integrated into many GP surgeries in the UK.
- NHS England’s role description for Clinical Pharmacists says they will ‘have a leadership role in supporting further integration of general practice with the wider healthcare teams, including community and hospital pharmacy’.
Just to clarify, a Clinical Pharmacist does not give the patient their medication. This would need to be collected from a community pharmacy in the normal way.
Personally, I like the emphasis on the broader role of patient care but find it hard to be convinced that the majority of these new Clinical Pharmacists will be committed to encouraging and promoting self-care and signposting clients to the range of support options that the social prescribing model can make available. Like doctors, their initial pharmaceutical training is based around…pharmaceuticals! I sincerely hope I am proved wrong!
Nonetheless, having a Clinical Pharmacist in a GP practice is a big step forward and will help alleviate the pressure on GPs, especially during the winter months. Next time you need to make an appointment at your GP surgery, seeing the Clinical Pharmacist might be a better option for you. Often the waiting time is less than for seeing the GP and they have specialist skills that can help improve the patient experience. And if you still then need to see a GP you will still be able to.
Kamal Aggarwal is a clinical pharmacist based at Queensway Surgery, Southend. He said:
“Bringing in my skills as a pharmacist into General Practice and with further training in prescribing, mental health and minor Illness, I have been able to see more patients in the practice. This has been a significant benefit for our patients as they have been able to see a prescribing clinician quicker. This role has also helped the GPs as I have been able to take over some of their workload in regard to medicine management and quality improvement. Our patients have been very supportive of this new role and I look forward to being able to further develop this role to meet the needs of the local population.”
Tricia D’Orsi, Chief Nurse for NHS Southend and NHS Castle Point and Rochford Clinical Commissioning Group said:
“People want to see their GP with common ailments because they are unsure how long symptoms last and need reassurance that it isn’t anything more serious. Instead of waiting for an appointment at your surgery, consider an appointment with a clinical pharmacist at the surgery. They can explain the normal duration of symptoms, give advice on how to manage symptoms and tell you if they think you need to see a GP.”
You can find out more about services available from GPs in the Southend, Castle Point and Rochford localities via the links below:
When you need medical help or advice urgently, but it’s not life-threatening, call 111. In emergencies always dial 999.