New scheme will see pharmacists receive cash boost for referred patients

As reported by the Pharmaceutical Journal, a pilot scheme in South Tyneside will see pharmacists receive £13 for every patient referred to them by their GP receptionist

A pilot scheme will see pharmacists paid to take on patients referred by GPs.

The GP2Pharmacy scheme will give patients the option to see a pharmacist when they call their GP. The receptionist will assess them and have them suggest which type of appointment would be most appropriate.

The advantage of choosing a pharmacist is increased availability and speed of appointments.

The aim is to reduce GPs’ workloads, and pharmacists will be paid £13 per consultation. Thus far, 10 pharmacies in South Tyneside have signed up, with another 30 expected to get involved by September.

Patients will also be able to book check-ups with their pharmacist.

Louise Lydon, secretary of the Gateshead and South Tyneside Local Pharmaceutical Committee (LPC), told The Pharmaceutical Journal that “the reception staff have been trained to triage in the same way that NHS 111 does”, ensuring they are able to assess whether pharmacist or GP appointment would suit better.

These assessments are currently being undertaken over the phone, but they will eventually be made online, “through pharmacists getting access to the EMIS [medical information sharing] package so that [GP receptionists] can see the pharmacists’ availability”, Lydon said.

8,000 pharmacy appointments are available, and the payment system could amount to a cash injection of £104,000 for those involved.

Lydon said local pharmacists are “delighted with the service” so far.

NHS England has said that similar schemes would be piloted across England later in 2019.

Jo Farey, head of commissioning at NHS South Tyneside CCG, said: “GPs will always be there when we need them, but for certain conditions, a booked appointment with a qualified pharmacist is quick, easy and helps to ease the pressure on busy doctors.

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“This is not for everyone, but it’s a great option for patients who don’t need a GP’s input at that moment.”

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