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GP pharmacist recruitment linked with ‘better medicines prescribing’

Pharmacy News

GP pharmacist recruitment linked with ‘better medicines prescribing’

Recruiting pharmacists to general practice settings “is associated with better medicines prescribing,” a recent study has found.

However, the study also warned that the increasing recruitment of new clinical roles to general practice in recent years may have had a negative impact on patient satisfaction.

The study from University of Manchester researchers looked at staff data for 6,296 GP surgeries in England between 2015 and 2019, using indicators for quality of care including clinical effectiveness, patient experience and costs to the health system.

Four staffing categories were included in the report: GPs, nurses, health professionals (such as pharmacists) and healthcare associate professionals.

The health professional category saw the greatest increase over the four-year study period, rising from 0.04 full-time equivalent per practice in 2015 to 0.28 in 2019.

“The impact of some roles appear clearer than others,” said the authors, noting that pharmacists “contribute towards detailed tasks related to medicine prescription, reducing the burden of these activities for existing staff”.  

Working from the assumption that a “higher share of narrow-spectrum antibiotics represents an overall sign of good prescribing behaviour,” the authors found that widening recruitment to GP practices had a “positive and significant effect” on prescribing. 

“This result can be explained by the inclusion of Pharmacist in the HP category,” they said.

However, practices that hired more additional roles suffered a greater drop in patient satisfaction, while a higher number of GPs and nurses was found to be “generally positive for accessibility and user experience”.

“On average, a one FTE increase in HP staff employed at GP practices was associated with a 2.4 percent drop in overall patient satisfaction,” the National Institute for Health and Care Research noted in a statement on the study.

The study data was largely taken from the period before the introduction of the additional roles reimbursement scheme in England in 2019, which provides funding for 26,000 additional roles to primary care teams.

Lead author Igor Francetic said: “The introduction of new roles to support GPs does not have straightforward effects on service quality or patient satisfaction.

“In fact we provide substantial evidence of detrimental effects on patient satisfaction when some health professionals and healthcare associate professionals are employed.

“Patient satisfaction is a crucial dimension of quality of care, as it contributes to individuals’ willingness to seek care through GPs.”

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