Lancashire and South Cumbria will get five additional clinical pharmacists in general practice following the latest announcement of successful applications for the national programme.
The third wave of areas that will benefit from having a clinical pharmacist were announced by NHS England this week and include Greater Preston, West Lancashire, East Lancashire and Morecambe Bay.
It will bring the total number of clinical pharmacists working in surgeries across Lancashire and South Cumbria to 29, serving 548,000 people – one-third of the area’s population.
Clinical pharmacists work as part of the surgery team to resolve day-to-day medicine issues and consult with and treat patients directly. This includes providing extra help to manage long-term conditions, advice for those on multiple medications and better access to health checks. With extra training, they can also consult with patients and prescribe medication.
Dr Malcolm Ridgway, senior responsible officer for primary care in Lancashire and South Cumbria, said: “Pharmacists are experts in how to get the best outcomes from medicines and their clinical skills are enabling general practice to improve the quality of services for people who use medicines regularly for long-term conditions such as asthma and diabetes.
“Clinical pharmacists working in practices in Lancashire and South Cumbria are already making a significant difference by improving patient access to health services and reducing GPs’ workload and we are excited to see these benefits being extended with today’s announcement of an additional five clinical pharmacists for our area.”
Nicola Baxter, head of medicines optimisation at NHS West Lancashire Clinical Commissioning Group, said:
“In West Lancashire our patients have been benefiting from the fantastic work that clinical pharmacists provide since 2015.
“Currently we have two clinical pharmacists in post in Aughton, at County Road Surgery in Ormskirk and across the Beacon Primary Care practices in the region, with an additional two pharmacists to be in post across the Northern Parishes and Skelmersdale later this year.”
Yasmin Ahmed is one of two clinical pharmacists based at the Lancaster Medical Practice. She works with the medical and administrative teams across seven sites.
Yasmin says her role supporting doctors with administrative duties, hospital discharges and hospital prescription requests, has freed up GP time to see more patients.
Yasmin explains: “We have looked to increase patient access, so we’ve got more appointments available. We have been supporting the doctors significantly with the administrative duties, hospital discharges, prescription requests and so on.
“It’s about literally talking to our patients and making yourself available to them and having a conversation with them. If you’ve rung in with a query do you need to see a GP or nurse, or can the practice clinical pharmacist help you?”
Dr Gavin Torr, GP at the practice, says the pharmacists can build good relationships with patients and save GP time.
He says: “There’s no doubt our average patient who gets regular prescriptions from their community pharmacy has a good relationship with their community pharmacist. This is what we need to encourage here in general practice too.
“Our clinical pharmacists have some fantastic clinical knowledge and real skills they bring to the team, giving better patient outcomes. They have taken on some chronic disease management care looking at some of the more complex cases and even taken on a role of telephone triage for some of the patients ringing in the morning.
“Who is the best person to do medication reviews? I would argue in many cases the clinical pharmacist will do a better job than the doctor with their wider knowledge of drug interactions. The benefit for me is that this role removes some of the work from my desk.”
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