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Pharmacist prescribing will fragment primary care, warns leading GP


Pharmacist prescribing will fragment primary care, warns leading GP

By Neil Trainis

The head of primary care and public health at Imperial College London has said the government should increase its investment in GP services rather than push ahead with its pharmacist prescriber programme.

London-based GP Azeem Majeed told the British Medical Journal in an article published today that although he believed pharmacists “are capable of undertaking this work,” he insisted more funding should be channelled into core GP services and he even went as far as to suggest pharmacist independent prescribing will fragment primary care.

A nationwide NHS England-funded pharmacist prescribing services pilot will begin next year and some 3,000 IP training places are also available for pharmacists.

Those who have completed their IP training can prescribe a limited number of drugs but the prospect of pharmacists prescribing a wider range of medicines for conditions such as hypertension and high cholesterol as well as contraception and for minor illnesses, has generated excitement within the pharmacy profession.

The Royal Pharmaceutical Society said independent pharmacist prescribers “can help to build greater capacity and capability within the NHS workforce and ease pressure in areas such as acute and emergency care and primary care, including out of hours services".

Chief pharmaceutical officer David Webb said that by 2026, all pharmacists should be able to independently prescribe at the point of registration.

Professor Majeed, however, told the BMJ: “I would rather see increased investment in core GP services to improve access for patients rather than the fragmentation of primary care delivery and the mixed range of interventions the government is introducing – without much success – to reduce pressures on NHS general practices in England.”

Professor Majeed also said it was important to know how much IP “schemes” will cost to run and how that compares with investing in general practices.

“At a time when NHS budgets will be under severe pressure, it’s essential that the most cost-effective options for delivering health services are used.”

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