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BMA: All pharmacy funding streams should be available to dispensing doctors


BMA: All pharmacy funding streams should be available to dispensing doctors

The British Medical Association has told MPs it is “imperative” that dispensing doctors should be able to access all funding and services available to community pharmacies. 

In its response to the parliamentary health select committee’s community pharmacy inquiry, published earlier this week, the BMA told the Government that dispensing practices “should never be forgotten in future care and medicines dispensing planning” as they are “an essential element of community pharmacy services” in isolated rural areas.

The BMA noted that 9.28 million people in the UK are registered with dispensing GP surgeries, which dispense roughly seven per cent of all prescription items via a network of 1,107 premises.  

“Consideration of future care and medicines dispensing arrangements should reflect the necessity of the service dispensing practices offer to their patient community,” it said, calling for dispensing GPs to receive “extra investment” in areas where pharmacies are “not viable”. 

The BMA also welcomed the growing role of pharmacy in delivering minor ailments schemes and said pharmacies could act as an alternative provider to general practice “for some care provision and treatment options” such as the monitoring and review of long-term conditions like hypertension and COPD. 

It also suggested that community pharmacies could offer structured medication reviews, which in England are offered by pharmacists working in general practice, and that pharmacists should have greater powers to substitute medicines where a prescribed treatment is affected by shortages.

It set this in the context of a workload crisis in general practice, with a current shortfall of over 2,000 full time equivalent GPs compared to 2015 and an 18.6 per cent increase in the number of patients assigned to an average doctor.

On workforce, the BMA said that while the recruitment of pharmacists to primary care through the Additional Roles Reimbursement Scheme has provided “very welcome” support, it has also led to a reduction in the number of pharmacists and pharmacy technicians available to local pharmacies.

“To this end, greater emphasis should be placed on expansion of the pharmacy workforce, as well as enabling cross working and true collaboration between practices and community pharmacy.”

The BMA also joined calls from the pharmacy sector for full IT interoperability between practices and pharmacies to ensure both care settings “have access to the necessary information to provide the best possible safe care”.

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