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Practice pharmacists' role still unclear

Pharmacy News

Practice pharmacists' role still unclear

Practice-based pharmacists (PBPs) integrate well into, and improve, primary healthcare, according to a study from Northern Ireland.

Researchers interviewed 11 ‘triads’ of GPs, PBPs and community pharmacists from across the province by telephone or during virtual meetings. Participants reported that PBPs had integrated well and enhanced healthcare delivery.

PBPs, for instance, reduced GPs’ workload, saved time, ensured that GPs were aware of the most current guidelines, reduced interruptions experienced by GPs and made errors less likely.

However, while most GPs were aware of PBPs’ role, some were not. Nor was the role entirely clear to community pharmacists. PBPs, other members of the practice team and community pharmacists need to better understand each other’s roles and communicate clearly to deliver efficient PBP-led patient care, researchers say.
For example, patients could contact the practice to speak to a pharmacist about an acute problem. 

PBPs undertake a wide range of activities, some of which differ between practices. Most commonly, however, PBPs reconciled medicines with hospital discharge and outpatient letters, and performed medication reviews. PBPs can have wider roles, such as independent prescribing and conducting chronic disease review clinics. Nevertheless, PBPs will probably still prioritise medication reconciliation and drug reviews.

Many of those interviewed regarded PBPs as a ‘central hub’ between general practice and community pharmacies as well as between primary and secondary care. However, communication pathways between PBPs and community pharmacists need improvement.

Shared education, training and meetings involving the multidisciplinary team are essential to ensure that everyone adheres to the same principles and procedures. Patient awareness of the role of PBPs also needs improvement. (British Journal of General Practice DOI: 10.3399/BJGP.2022.0518)

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