NHS England has unveiled plans to create 1,500 new pharmacist jobs in general practice over the next five years, as part of a wider initiative to improve primary care.
£112 million will be invested to ensure that every general practice in England gains access to the skills of a clinical pharmacist, on top of the existing £31 million funding to create 450 pharmacist roles in general practice.
Practice based pharmacists will be expected to support better working between GPs, hospital pharmacists and community pharmacists as well as facilitating the transfer of patient care. Early indications suggest they may have a role in streamlining practice prescription processes, medicines optimisation, minor ailments and the management of long-term conditions.
NHS England has also announced that it will open up the training programme for practice based pharmacists to general practices that have directly funded a pharmacist themselves.
In response, Sandra Gidley, RPS England Board Chair said: “The creation of around 2,000 new jobs for pharmacists, in an era of austerity where value must be proven rather than assumed, shows a strong commitment to the profession from the very top of NHS England.
"GPs want to work alongside pharmacists, for pharmacists to be part of the team, alongside nurses, mental health workers and others. I know that many pharmacists, from all sectors, want this too - and now there is an opportunity for many more pharmacists to consider this option alongside more established roles."
She encouraged pharmacists to investigate this career opportunity, adding that support would be available through the RPS Faculty.
With the GP Forward View, NHS England has also confirmed its intention to introduce a Pharmacy Integration Fund, worth £20 million in 2016/17 and rising by a further £20 million each year, to help further transform how pharmacists, their teams and community pharmacy work as part of wider NHS services in their area.
Ms Gidley added: “Let me be 100 per cent clear: the RPS believes that when it comes to pharmacists working in GP surgeries and pharmacists working in community pharmacies it is a case of 'more' and not 'either, or'."
The RPS has produced a guide for pharmacists working in GP practices, which can be viewed here.