(12th April 2017)
More patients in Kent will soon be able to benefit from expert advice from a clinical pharmacist when they visit their GP surgery, thanks to the expansion of a national scheme to support a growing number of clinical pharmacists to help with patients’ routine medication and treatment.
NHS England has announced that patients in west Kent and Thanet will benefit from having pharmacists located at GP surgeries in these areas, following an initial roll out of the national scheme, which will see over 700 more GP practices in England benefit from having a pharmacist located in their GP surgery, covering up to six million patients and helping to free up GP time.
This is in addition to two existing pilot schemes in the South Kent Coast area and Medway, where clinical pharmacists are already working in local GP practices to support patient care.
Clinical pharmacists work as part of the general practice team by providing expertise on day- to-day medicine issues and consultations with patients directly. This includes providing extra help to manage patients’ long-term conditions, such as helping to manage a patient’s high blood pressure earlier and more effectively to prevent cardiovascular disease; advice for patients on taking multiple medications; and offering better access to health checks. This all delivers quicker access to clinical advice for patients and allows GPs to spend time with patients who have more complex needs.
Welcoming the plans to increase the number of clinical pharmacists supporting patient care in Kent and Medway GP practices, Sarah Macdonald, Director of Commissioning within NHS England’s South East team said:
“Having a clinical pharmacist in GP practices means GPs can focus their skills where they are most needed, for example on diagnosing and treating patients with complex conditions. This helps GPs manage the demands on their time and ensures patients see the health professional that best suits their needs.”
Jennifer Bostock, Director of Nursing at Invicta Health, who has helped lead the existing pilot clinical pharmacist scheme in the South Kent Coast area, added:
“I’ve been closely involved in the pharmacist pilot having provided supervision and guidance for two of the staff as well as working with the group as a whole. Having qualified clinical pharmacists working as part of the practice teams within these surgeries is helping to improve the level of service they can provide to their patients and to make the best possible use of the clinical skills of practice staff.”
“I’ve been really impressed with their impact in supporting the work of both practices and their absence is keenly felt when they are on leave. In particular we are very proud of the work with complex care home patients to improve their care and prevent hospital admissions.”
It has been confirmed that two areas of Kent and Medway will benefit from the first wave of the roll out of the Clinical Pharmacists in General Practice Programme. These are:
West Kent – the Mid Kent GP Alliance (which brings together different local GP practices in the area) will be working with local GP practices, including in the Maidstone, Tunbridge Wells, Tonbridge and Sevenoaks areas, to develop the role of clinical pharmacists to support the care of their patients
Thanet –the Thanet Health Community Interest Company (CIC) will be working with local GP practices across Thanet, to develop the role of clinical pharmacists working in surgeries to complement and enhance the care of their patients. The Thanet Health CIC is made up of local GPs who are supporting health professionals and local health and care providers across Thanet to work with each other to co-ordinate and improve patient care.
Two areas of Kent and Medway (South Kent Coast and Medway) are already using clinical pharmacists to support patient care at local surgeries, as part of the original pilot clinical pharmacy scheme announced nationally in 2015.
Case study on the existing use of clinical pharmacists within the South Kent Coast area
Five clinical pharmacists are already working across six GP practices in the South Kent Coast area to improve services for patients. These pharmacists are all employed by Invicta Health, a community interest company owned by GPs in east Kent, which is overseeing this existing pilot project that NHS England has helped fund.
The pharmacists work with patients at:
The pharmacists are able to carry out comprehensive medication reviews for patients, for example patients with long term conditions, to make sure the medication they need is kept up to date. This includes ensuring that patients who use regular medication, such as patients with asthma and hypertension (high blood pressure) are using their medicines properly and at the appropriate doses. It also includes ensuring that patients who have experienced a change in their health receive the right medication for their needs, for example patients receiving end of life care. The pharmacists are also able to spend time with patients to step down or stop their medication, as clinically appropriate.
As well as patients benefiting from the specialist skills of pharmacists who now lead their medication reviews, this also helps free up the time of GPs so that they can focus their skills where they are most needed, for example on diagnosing and treating patients with complex conditions.
The pharmacist working at Martello Medical Practice in Dymchurch has been able to work with local care home staff to help develop medication care plans to ensure the best possible treatment and care for their residents with complex care needs. This proactive approach to the management of their care and medication has helped reduce the number of residents from these care homes that need to be admitted to hospital.
In addition, the pharmacists are able to support GP practices with the administration of clinical documents and the results of investigations into a patient’s condition. The pharmacists are being trained to screen correspondence received from hospitals about the care of individual patients, to ensure any necessary follow up actions are completed by the patient’s GP practice and to make sure any complex cases are brought to the attention of GPs.
Two of the clinical pharmacists working as part of this project are also trained to directly prescribe medicines for patients.
The pilot project has helped bring these GP practices together to share their experience of developing the role of the clinical pharmacist within their teams, so that they can learn from one another for the benefit of their patients.
In Medway, the 10 GP practices listed below are also already working as part of a local alliance of practices to use clinical pharmacists to support patient care, having received funding from NHS England as an initial pilot site to trial this new way of working. The local GP practices taking part in the Medway pilot scheme are:
Parks Medical practice, Cliffe Woods, Rochester
The Elms Medical Centre, Hoo Highcliffe Medical Practice, Higham Court View Surgery, Strood
Borstal Village Surgery, Rochester
Dame Sybil Thorndike Health Centre, Strood Bryant Street Medical Centre, Chatham Lordswood Health Centre, Chatham Churchill Clinic, Chatham
Parkwood Family Practice, Rainham