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Burt: Pharmacists have bigger role in GP medicine management


25 February 2016

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Community pharmacists have a bigger role in monitoring, managing and ending patients' medication, taking some of the work from GPs, Alistair Burt, community and social care minister, explained.

Community pharmacists have a bigger role in monitoring, managing and ending patients' medication, taking some of the work from GPs, Alistair Burt, community and social care minister, explained.

Speaking at an event by The King’s Fund yesterday, Burt said that if pharmacists are in GP surgeries then patients should “try to go straight through to the pharmacy.You don’t need to talk to the doctor about your medicines, you need to talk to the pharmacist.

“There is an implicit understanding, it seems to me, than in talking to pharmacist it is not merely to confirm what has already been said, it is to have a proper discussion about whether the course of medicines is the right thing to do, how it should continue etc. Otherwise, there’s no point in the pharmacist being there, as far as I can understand,” he added.

The minister is also “very interested” in minor injury services in pharmacies, stating that where they are working “they are really good”, but there is difficulty in nationally commissioning pharmacies to do this, “perhaps locally is the way to go”.

“I do see my part in the bargain here. If I’m asking this to be done, what can I do to help commission the extra services that need to be there? That’s not my job, really, but I think it ought to be, because I’m asking a lot of all of you. The least I can do is to throw myself into the commissioning side,” he told the audience.

Burt also said that there would be an impact assessment on the £170 million cut to community pharmacy funding, which “will be published in due course”.

On the subject of the cuts he said: “In order to front-load the NHS the money had to be found. So it’s been found. We can’t work in a system where we wait forever for things to be done. That’s how deficits grow and that’s how inertia builds up and change doesn’t happen.”

Asked whether the cuts could be reversed, he said frankly: “The straight answer is I don’t think so. Is the consultation useless? No it's not, because the negotiations we’re undertaking with PSNC [Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee] and others is designed to say 'here’s the envelope we’ve got, how can we do this?'

“How do we preserve the best services that are out there on the high street? How do we provide an incentive for places that could be doing different things but aren’t?… It would be great if [the cut] wasn’t there but it is," he said.

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