Community Pharmacists help to ease pressure on Sheffield GPs

A Sheffield health scheme is helping to ease the pressure on the city’s GPs by changing the way community pharmacists and GP practices work together.

In the first month alone, more than two hundred hours of GP time have been saved, freeing GPs up to offer more appointments for people who urgently need one.

The scheme has linked community pharmacists to 82 Sheffield GP practices to enable GPs to work more closely with their community pharmacist and pharmacy technician colleagues.

As experts in medicines, these pharmacy professionals are carrying out a wide range of activities relating to prescribing and medication, allowing the different health professionals to use their specialised knowledge to directly benefit patients.

The scheme is part of the Enhancing Primary Care programme, funded through the Prime Minister’s Challenge Fund, and is testing out a range of initiatives to improve access to services as well as strengthen links between GP practices, pharmacy, community, social care and voluntary services to provide care closer to people’s homes.

Dr Andrew Hilton, local GP and Chief Executive of Primary Care Sheffield who are leading the programme, said: “It is great that we are already starting to see a difference being made to general practice in the city for patients through the Enhancing Primary Care programme. Changing the way community pharmacists and GPs work together means that we can make better use of the resources available within practices and both highly skilled health professionals are more available to support people in managing their health and wellbeing.”

Dr Keith Ridge, Chief Pharmaceutical Officer, NHS England, said: “It is critical for pharmacists and GPs to work closely together if patients are going to get optimal outcomes from their medicines. This initiative is a good example of that and will help develop a genuine multidisciplinary and seamless approach to patient care which plays to the strengths of GPs and community pharmacists alike. It sits well alongside NHS England’s initiative to help fund and pilot over 400 clinical pharmacists to work alongside GPs.”

As well as the pharmacy scheme, the Enhancing Primary Care programme is also creating more urgent appointments on weekday evenings and at weekends at four sites across the city, providing online tools and resources to help people manage their health.
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