Health Minister Simon Hamilton today announced a five year initiative that will see the additional investment in 2016/17 of up to £2.6million, rising to £14million per year in 2020/21, to provide for pharmacists to work alongside GPs.
The investment will boost capacity in primary care – making it easier to get appointments at GP surgeries and ensuring people obtain the best possible health outcomes from their medicines.
Speaking during a visit to Holywood Arches Healthcare Centre in east Belfast, 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.
“This is why I am delighted to be able to announce today this 5-year investment that will see £2.55million invested in 2016/17, rising to £14million per annum in 2020/21, to support pharmacists in GP practices.”
GPs delivered 875,000 more consultations with patients in 2013/14 than in 2010/11. Alongside the growth in consultations has been a growth in prescribing with a 42% increase in repeat prescriptions in the ten year period since 2003/4. While the cost of prescribing has fallen by 18 per cent in real terms since 2006, the volume of prescriptions continues to rise significantly – from 23 million items in 2000 to almost 39 million in 2013.
The Minister continued: “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.
“Critically, 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. This investment is also an important component in delivering my Department’s Medicines Optimisation Quality Framework.”