New move to bring pharmacists into GP surgeries
A new initiative to bring pharmacists into GP surgeries has been announced.
Health Minister Simon Hamilton said he hoped the multi million scheme would alleviate pressure on doctors and make it easier to get appointments.
He said: "Having a pharmacist as part of the clinical team within a practice can also relieve work pressure on GPs, freeing up time for the GP to spend with patients with more complex medical needs, helping to make appointments at GP surgeries easier to get and improving the quality and safety of our prescribing for better patient outcomes."
Pharmacists will be able to carry out routine medication reviews and advise patients on medication, working as part of a team with GPs and practice nurses.
The five-year investment programme was announced by the Minister during a visit to Arches Health Centre in east Belfast.
Some £2.55 million will be rolled out during the 2016/17 financial year, rising to £14 million a year in 2020/21.
Mr Hamilton said: "We know our GP services face rising demand for appointments and prescriptions. We also know that patients are not getting the optimal benefits from their medicines and that there is a high level of non-adherence and waste across the UK, with up to 6% of hospital admissions due to the adverse effects of medication."
Doctors delivered 875,000 more consultations with patients in 2013/14 than in 2010/11.
There has also been a 42% increase in repeat prescriptions in the 10 years since 2003/4 with almost 39 million medications handed out during 2013.
Mr Hamilton added: "With the growth in our elderly population and more people living with multiple conditions, prescribing medications is becoming increasingly complex.
"We have a great resource in our pharmacists whom we want to better utilise to work directly alongside GPs and nurses. Not only will this approach deliver a better service for patients, it is also common sense to ensure we make the most effective use of the skills and experience we have in health and social care."
The announcement has been welcomed by the British Medical Association (BMA).
Dr Tom Black, chair of the BMA's GP committee, said doctors were dealing with "unprecedented pressures".
"The five year investment from the Department and HSCB will go some way to alleviating the crisis faced by GPs in Northern Ireland whereby they are dealing with increased bureaucracy, rising patient lists and a shortfall in the number of training places available for GPs in Northern Ireland."