GP practices could achieve an improved service by utilising community pharmacies, health secretary Jeremy Hunt, has said.

In a speech announcing a new deal for general practice last month, he spoke about a scheme running on the south coast of England. ‘In Brighton, 16 GP practices are working with local pharmacies to create four primary care clusters, offering evening and weekend appointments with a GP or pharmacist and giving the pharmacist equal access to GP records,’ he said. ‘Dr Jonathan Serjeant from Brighton said the pilot has been “a fantastic opportunity for practices to learn to work…with pharmacists to design and provide care for people.”’

The health secretary urged pharmacy to get involved in the changes taking place in primary care. ‘These new ways of working offer great potential. But what won’t work is a return to top-down direction from the Department of Health. Innovation cannot be imposed, it can only be embraced.

So please play your part by getting into the driving seat as we move towards more multi-disciplinary working, imaginative use of technology, better co-ordination with other parts of the NHS and re-imagining roles through the federations or responsibility for new integrated community services.’ Mr Hunt added that other issues such as improved technology in general practice would help with offering seven-day care, a target for the government. 􀀀

A new deal for GPs, announced by Jeremy Hunt, will focus on tackling concerns over increasing the number of doctors, practice nurses, district nurses, physicians’ associates and pharmacists, improving the buildings that primary care practitioners are working in and how quality of care is assessed. A £10 million fund will help general practices that need support. See page 11 for more on the Brighton and Hove pharmacy scheme

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