Pharmacists working in General Practice – More to it than just prescribing medicines

We all understand the importance of Practice-based pharmacists and their ability to save GP time and improve the National Health Service for its patients.

This is being given even more precedence lately with the recent NHS advertising campaign encouraging patients to get their community pharmacist’s advice, and the In Practice Pharmacist initiative that Practice Unbound and NHS England are joining forces to deliver.

So what is it actually like on the ground for a pharmacist making the move from Community Pharmacy to General Practice?

We spoke to Reading-based Practice pharmacist, Ida Osei, to find out about her experiences.

What does a typical day look like for a pharmacist in Practice?

Before I leave work I always have a quick glance at the appointments I have lined up for the following day, checking out the type of clinics that are booked in for me and how long each is likely to take.

In the morning I start by reviewing clinical documents (both electronic and paper mail), and if it’s a Monday, I’ll review any outstanding clinic audits as well.

My clinic usually starts with 5-minute telephone appointments between 10:00 and 11:00. I then start my face-to-face clinic, which again depends on which day it is. If we are short on Doctor’s on a particular day, I hold a 1.5 hour Minor Illness clinic made up of 15-minute appointments.

I’ll review any blood results that arrive and move on to Medicines Management tasks, which involve repeat prescription signing and review. My afternoon clinic follows the same pattern as the morning clinic with telephone consultations, routine clinics, and ends with reviewing and signing more prescriptions and completing any outstanding tasks.

What made you want to work in Primary Care?

My pharmaceutical career started in 2000 in a community pharmacy within a Primary Care centre.

We had close links with the GPs and supported the practice with the Quality and Outcomes Framework (QoF) doing asthma reviews, blood pressure checks, smoking cessation services and sending results back to the practice for an update.

I then joined a large multiple for 10 years before finally returning to Primary Care. I wanted to go back to Primary Care because I missed patient services and clinics. Even though in community I did a lot of services that were available to community pharmacist, a substantial amount of my time was spent on managerial tasks that were not directly related to patient care.

After 10 years I wanted to be in an environment where I could use my skills for direct patient care.

Coming from a community pharmacy background, where there any familiarities?

I was used to carrying out medication use reviews and Over the Counter (OTC) consultations with patients, so I found speaking to patients on the phone and face to face was easy. I was also used to contacting my local surgery regarding out of stock medication and recommending available alternatives, so I knew what to expect.

I did have to learn how to use a new clinical system. Also, ordering and reviewing blood tests for medication reviews and monitoring was new to me, as well as carrying out medication reconciliation.

 

What value do you bring to the Practice in your pharmacist role?

My role in the Practice has created value for GPs and other clinical staff, as well as patients. This includes:

• Taking over repeat prescribing in the practice
• Acting as a source of medicines information
• Reducing time patients have to wait for appointments as extra face to face appointments are created for pharmacist
• Long term conditions management
• Medication monitoring
• Prescribing incentive schemes
• Being the first port of call for all medication-related queries coming into the practice
• Training staff practice staff like pharmacists assistants, trainee nurses and registrars

What challenges have you overcome and how?

My main challenge moving into a General Practice role was that not everyone knew what a pharmacist was able to do regarding patient care.
I found this frustrating in the beginning, but it quickly became apparent that the role was new to both parties, and once we both worked out how to make repeat prescribing safe and efficient, I started developing my role in other areas of care, and the rest is history!

 

Ida Osei has been a pharmacist since 2000 and has worked in hospitals, community and General Practice. She is currently In Practice Pharmacist at the Tilehurst Surgery in Reading.

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