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Nigel's surgery 81: Pharmacy professionals in general practice

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Pharmacists and pharmacy technicians (pharmacy professionals) are increasingly working in multidisciplinary teams in general practice. They work in a variety of clinical and non-clinical capacities.

To meet the regulations practices must ensure that staff, including pharmacy professionals:

  • have the skills, knowledge and experience to deliver effective care and treatment,
  • work within the scope of their qualifications, competence, skills and experience, and
  • receive the support, training, professional development, supervision and appraisals that are necessary for them to carry out their role and responsibilities

Practices must be sure staff meet these requirements even if they do not employ their pharmacy professional directly.

How we inspect

During our inspections of GP practices, under the effective key question, we ask:

E3. How does the service make sure that staff have the skills, knowledge and experience to deliver effective care, support and treatment?

We consider the competency and development of all staff, including pharmacy professionals, by asking the following questions:

  • Do people have their assessed needs, preferences and choices met by staff with the right skills and knowledge?
  • How are the learning needs of all staff identified? Do staff have appropriate training to meet their learning needs to cover the scope of their work and is there protected time for this training?
  • Are staff encouraged and given opportunities to develop?
  • What are the arrangements for supporting and managing staff to deliver effective care and treatment? (This includes one-to-one meetings, appraisals, coaching and mentoring, clinical supervision and revalidation.)

What does a practice based pharmacy professional do?

Practice based pharmacy professionals must follow medicines optimisation and NICE Medicines Optimisation Guidelines.

Within these, they may provide:

Clinical services

  • Work closely with GPs and other surgery clinicians to resolve day-to-day medicines issues
  • Consult with patients for medication reviews
  • Manage and prescribe for long-term conditions (see 'Pharmacists as non-medical prescribers')
  • Triage and manage common ailments
  • Respond to acute medicine requests
  • Take part in multidisciplinary case reviews

Prescription management

  • Work with the practice team to deliver repeat prescription reviews
  • Point of contact for medicines-related queries for healthcare professionals and patients
  • Liaise with other services to make sure patients receive the correct medicines when they move between care providers

Audit and education

  • Implement systems to monitor medicines use
  • Lead audits and quality improvements programmes involving medicines
  • Contribute to clinical education of other healthcare professionals

Medicines management

  • Work with GPs and practices nurses to agree and manage practice formularies. These should improve the choice and cost effectiveness of medicines
  • Implement NICE guidance through:
    • audit and feedback
    • formulary management
    • educational sessions with the healthcare team and patients

Pharmacists as Advanced Clinical Practitioners

Advanced clinical practitioners in general practice may be pharmacy professionals. Nigel's surgery 66: Advanced Nurse Practitioners (ANPs) in primary care covers issues that relate to the advanced practitioner role.

Pharmacists as non-medical prescribers

Pharmacist independent prescribers must have completed a GPhC-accredited training programme. Pharmacist independent prescribers:

  • can prescribe any medicine for any medical condition. This includes controlled drugs and unlicensed medicines
  • must work within their own level of professional competence and expertise.

The GP practice and pharmacists must agree the range and extent of this prescribing practice. The practice must be sure, and have evidence, that the pharmacist is competent in those areas.

Professional registration

Pharmacy professionals must be registered with the GPhC to legally practice in the UK.

You can view and search the GPhC register online. The register shows if a pharmacist is an independent prescriber. It does not show any other distinctions on areas of specialism or competence.

Practices must check pharmacy professionals have appropriate professional registration before and throughout employment. This includes for those in locum or temporary positions.

Professional indemnity

All pharmacy professionals must have professional indemnity arrangements to cover their role and scope of practice. (This is under article 32 of the Pharmacy Order 2010 and as part of their professional registration with the GPhC).

For pharmacy professionals working in their practice, practices must know what professional indemnity insurance they have and the extent of cover provided. They must ensure pharmacists do not work outside that cover and seek professional advice where necessary.

Supervision, appraisals and Continuing Professional Development (CPD)

Practices are responsible for supporting all staff to deliver effective care and treatment.

GP practices should support pharmacy professionals by:

  • An appraisal every twelve months covering all aspects of their role, both managerial and/or clinical. This should describe the impact this has had on their practice.
  • Providing a safe and confidential environment to reflect on and discuss their work. This can be one to one, group or peer supervision. Develop an effective local process collaboratively.
  • Supporting them to fulfil their annual GPhC revalidation process. This assures their ongoing fitness to practice.

A pharmacy professional may work in a practice but be employed by another agency. In these cases the practice should assure themselves that this support is in place.

Further resources

Last updated:
02 October 2018


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