Health Experts Call for Pharmacists to Step in to Ease Pressure on GP Services

March 17th, 2015
Health Experts Call for Pharmacists to Step in to Ease Pressure on GP Services

Leading health professionals have called for pharmacists to be given a more expansive role in communities in a bid to ease pressure on GP services.

Proposals put forward by the Royal College of General Practice and the Royal Pharmaceutical Society suggest that more pharmacists should be employed to treat patients at GP services and deal with minor ailments. This would help to free up appointments for those with greater needs and decrease pressure on GPs.

Under the new proposals, pharmacists would undertake further training that would enable them to provide advice, as well as prescribe medication. The plans are aimed at every GP practice in England and would focus on patients receiving treatment from pharmacists directly, rather than pharmacists being encouraged to set up branches in GP surgeries.

The group of professionals believes that GP services are under intense pressure at the moment and thousands of patients are being informed that they will have to wait to see a doctor. Pharmacists could help to ease pressure on services by providing treatment and health advice for those who need assistance with minor illnesses and injuries.

In contrast to the shortage of GPs in the UK, there is currently an over-supply of qualified pharmacists who possess knowledge and skills that make a difference to the way the health system works and the treatment patients receive. Pharmacists undergo extensive training, completing courses longer than basic nursing courses and a year shorter than the average medical degree.

Experts believe that patients with chronic illnesses including diabetes and asthma would benefit most from the enforcement of new measures. They also believe that pharmacists could help to clear up confusion related to the information provided when patients with chronic conditions are discharged from hospital.

Dr Maureen Baker, chair of the Royal College of General Practice, claimed that even if there was a sudden funding boost, this is not a situation that can be improved overnight, as it takes years to train GPs. Utilising an “army” of skilled pharmacists could provide a really effective solution and enable patients to get effective treatment much faster.

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