The findings of a study published in the British Journal of General Practice show not only patient-facing role expansion but also practice environment and support issues for GP pharmacists. Pharmacists may appreciate more GP time invested in their development. The study concluded that practices need to be realistic about this support and not expect an immediate reduction in workload.
To address the growing GP workforce crisis, NHS England (NHSE) launched the Clinical Pharmacists in General Practice scheme in 2015. The NHSE scheme promotes a newer, patient-facing role for pharmacists and, currently, there is little insight into the role and activities undertaken. All scheme pharmacists are enrolled on the general practice pharmacist training pathway (GPPTP).
The aim of this study was to investigate the role evolution and integration of clinical pharmacists in general practice in England. It was a longitudinal survey of all phase 1 GPPTP registrants working in general practice at the start of (T1) and 6 months into (T2) training.
An online longitudinal survey was administered to all phase 1 GPPTP registrants (n = 457) at T1 and T2, measuring their perceived knowledge, skill, and confidence, activities performed, and perceptions of practice integration, environment, and support. Descriptive statistics and non-parametric tests were conducted.
Response rates were 46% (T1) and 52% (T2); 158 participants completed both questionnaires. Perceived knowledge, skill, and confidence levels increased significantly from T1 to T2 for all areas, except for managing acute or common illness. The scope of practice increased significantly, particularly in patient-facing activities. Sharing office space with the administrative staff was common and 13% of participants reported having no designated work area. Perceived integration at T2 was fairly high (median = 5 on a scale of 1–7) but GP clinical support was ‘too little’ according to one-third of participants.