Somerset’s NHS health commissioners, GPs and pharmacy leaders have welcomed the findings of a national guide highlighting the positive benefits to be gained for patients when GP Practices and pharmacy services work in close collaboration.
The National Association of Primary Care’s guide, “Primary care home: community pharmacy integration and innovation”, looked at ways local pharmaceutical committees, community pharmacies and GP Practices can make greater use of pharmacists’ skills as part of a model of care to a whole community.
Here in Somerset, close collaboration between GPs, primary care and community health professionals and pharmacists has been developing for some time and already bringing real benefits for patients and the stretched resources of GPs and their practice staff.
GP Practices within the South Somerset Healthcare Federation have also been working in a collaborative, multidisciplinary way. Dr Berge Balian, Medical Director for Symphony Healthcare Services, supported the launch of the guide, and explained:
“The role of community pharmacy services is absolutely integral to supporting our patients; many of whom live in rural communities. This is an excellent guide that helps to outline the opportunities of developing much closer links between GP practices and community pharmacy teams. Across Symphony Healthcare Services, we have been building a collaborative network of GP practices who are working to develop innovative ways to meet the changing healthcare needs of patients; by developing new specialist roles and skills within practice teams - as well as encouraging and supporting patients to take greater control of their own health.
“This year, we have introduced a new Medicines Management team that includes prescription clerks, pharmacy technicians and pharmacists who are based within Primary Care to improve the quality of prescription management and support for patients.
“This proactive team will develop close working relationships with local community pharmacy teams through a collaborative and proactive approach; providing a greater network of local support for patients and helping to relieve some of the pressures on our GPs.”
Michael Lennox, Chief Executive of the Somerset Local Pharmaceutical Committee, said:
“Community pharmacy and GP Practices have traditionally worked closely together, but we could take joint working much further, as recommended by the National Association of Primary Care. By strengthening the integration of services and working in multi-disciplinary teams, community pharmacies could deliver that integral support that would help the health and care needs of whole communities.“
Dr Will Harris, a Wells GP and clinical lead for primary care services with Somerset Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), said: “Somerset CCG welcomes the NAPC guide and encourages a wider conversation with Somerset’s health leaders, the local pharmaceutical committee and community pharmacy teams to ensure they can all play a part in the development of a population-wide approach to helping people maintain good health.”