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Why Do We Need Pharmacists in Primary Care?

Primary care Pharmacists play a significant part in managing medicines. They have a strategic role to focus on maximising benefit and minimising risk associated with medicines as well as making the best use of resources allocated for medicines. Primary care Pharmacists work in the local community supporting GPs, Nurses, Community Pharmacists and other Healthcare Professionals.

Pharmacists in primary care are able to get involved with clinical services, prescription management, audit and education, and medicines management.

Primary Care Pharmacy Education Pathway

The Primary care pharmacy education pathway (PCPEP) is the education and development programme for pharmacy professionals working in primary care network (PCN) roles such as general practice and care homes. This pathway provides a modular approach to cater for all the learning needs required by the pharmacy workforce in different patient facing roles in primary care.

All pharmacy professionals working in or for a PCN with additional role reimbursement funding have to do the training with CPPE, unless they are exempt through prior qualifications or experience. To find out more about the pathway, please click here.

Scope of Practice

The CPPE Primary care pharmacy education pathway will train pharmacy professionals to:

  • The following clinical pharmacists will work as part of a multi-disciplinary team in a patient facing role to clinically assess and treat patients using their expert knowledge of medicines for specific disease areas.
  • They will be prescribers, or will be completing training to become prescribers, and will work with, and alongside the general practice team. They will take responsibility for the care management of patients with chronic diseases and undertake clinical medication reviews to proactively manage people with complex polypharmacy, especially the elderly, people in care homes, those with multiple co-morbidities (in particular frailty, COPD and asthma) and people with learning disabilities or autism (through STOMP – Stopping Over Medication Programme).
  • They will provide specialist expertise in the use of medicines, while helping to address both the public health and social care needs of patients at the PCN’s practice(s) and to help in tackling inequalities.
  • Clinical pharmacists will provide leadership on person-centred medicines optimisation (including ensuring prescribers in the practice conserve antibiotics in line with local antimicrobial stewardship guidance) and quality improvement, while contributing to the quality and outcomes framework and enhanced services. Through structured medication reviews, clinical pharmacists will support patients to take their medications to get the best from them, reduce waste and promote self-care.
  • Clinical pharmacists will have a leadership role in supporting further integration of general practice with the wider healthcare teams (including community and hospital pharmacy) to help improve patient outcomes, ensure better access to healthcare and help manage general practice workload. The role has the potential to significantly improve quality of care and safety for patients.
  • They will develop relationships and work closely with other pharmacy professionals across PCNs and the wider health and social care system.
  • Clinical pharmacists will take a central role in the clinical aspects of shared care protocols, clinical research with medicines, liaison with specialist pharmacists (including mental health and reduction of inappropriate antipsychotic use in people with learning difficulties), liaison with community pharmacists and anticoagulation.

CPPE outline further roles for differing levels of pharmacists in primary care in the document available here.