The Royal Pharmaceutical Society and National Association of Primary Care have launched a consultation on radical proposals to integrate general practice and community pharmacy.

Current pressures in primary care access as well as increasing demand and financial constraints “mean the time is right to think differently about how NHS primary care provision could better meet the needs of patients and the public” they say.

The new proposals are designed to create an environment in which community pharmacists and GPs work much closer together, re-purposing resources to alleviate pressure points in general practice and improve patient care. 

Current plans include the development of schemes that place community pharmacy as an NHS access point for minor self-limiting conditions and ensure pharmacists and GP’s prioritise support of patients at high risk of a serious health problem, such as frail older people or those with multiple long-term conditions.

The groups also propose development of an underlying approach that aligns financial incentives for community pharmacies and general practices to work together, under a new “Joint Population Health Framework”.

One size no longer fits all

“It’s time to end the one size fits all approach and allow services be designed around the needs of patients and the public rather than healthcare providers,” said Ash Soni, RPS president and NAPC Board member. “There is a different way of approaching healthcare, where skills and access are designed to meet patient demand”.

Also commenting on the plans, Sandra Gidley, RPS Board chair, said: “If we are to move away from the treadmill of dispensing to a role where our clinical skills are recognised and valued by the public then the payment structures we currently work under will need to change. These proposals are designed to test the appetite for that”.