NHS England has approved funding for more than 160 additional GP surgery-based clinical pharmacists able to offer expert medical advice and treatment to patients.

Including previously approved posts, the move will increase the number of clinical pharmacists in general practice from around 580 to over 1,100, covering 40 percent of surgeries in the country and nearly 34 million patients.

Clinical pharmacists can offer patient consultations, expertise on issues with medicines, and extra help with the management of long-term conditions.

Increasing their presence in surgeries should help to alleviate some of the pressure on GPs and free up their time for those patients with the greatest need and most complex conditions.

According to NHS England, “the role is pivotal to improving the quality of care and ensuring patient safety”.

“The clinical pharmacist programme has proven to be a hugely popular with practices, patients and pharmacists themselves,” noted Dr Arvind Madan, GP and NHS England Director of Primary Care.

“Clinical pharmacists have a wealth of knowledge and skills to offer great patient care, in a more convenient way and are also taking some of the pressure off GPs, particularly at this time of year when we know demand is even greater than usual.”

NHS England, Health Education England, the Royal College of General Practitioners and the British Medical Association’s GP Committee are working with the Royal Pharmaceutical Society to support roll out of the programme to further expand the presence of clinical pharmacists in practices.

Successful GP practices and other providers of general practice medical services will get funding from NHS England for three years to recruit, train and establish clinical pharmacists in their practices for the long term.