In January, NHS England unveiled a multi-billion pound GP contract deal spanning five years. The governing body has announced that 20,000 roles will become available to support the GP function.
Having conceded that GP services face workforce shortages caused by a growing population, an increasing workload and a shortage of NHS nurses, NHS England is seeking to improve the management of conditions including diabetes, blood pressure, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and weight management.
The GP contract will focus on establishing and extending existing primary care networks, with GP surgeries working alongside community teams as part of a network contract. As part of the network, GPs will provide seven services, while primary care networks and clinical commissioning groups can create local schemes known as supplementary network services.
NHS England plans to create 20,000 roles, including pharmacists, physician associates, community paramedics, physiotherapists and link workers in primary care networks, funded through an additional roles reimbursement scheme.
The networks will decide how many staff they require from each profession. GP practices will receive a reimbursement of 70 per cent of the salary costs for such staff.
The role of pharmacists
NHS England envisages that the role of these staff members, including clinical pharmacists, will become an integral part of the GP practice model in the future. Pharmacy technicians may also be funded to work alongside the pharmacist.
This will see pharmacists – along with their specialised equipment, such as pharmacy freezers – become an established service within the GP practice. Such equipment is available from suppliers such as https://www.fridgefreezerdirect.co.uk/medical-refrigeration/pharmacy-freezers.
The clinical pharmacists will conduct medication reviews and deal with over-medication, the antimicrobial resistance strategy, waste reduction and self-care. Clinical pharmacists will also take on responsibility for health in care homes, particularly reviewing patient medicines.
Such a role will be crucial in reducing hospital admissions. According to NHS England, as many as 10 per cent of hospital admissions of elderly people are due to medicines in some way; in fact, as many as half of the patients are not thought to be taking their medicines as directed.
Meanwhile, community pharmacists will be tasked with identifying and treating conditions such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol.
NHS England is expected to release further information on the GP contract in March before a recruitment drive is launched.