An ICP pilot service to help patients to manage their long term conditions at a local pharmacy has been named ‘GP Partnership of the year’ at the 2015 C+D (Chemist and Druggist) awards in London.
The initiative, led by Craigavon/Banbridge ICP Chair and Pharmacist lead Raymond Anderson, involved a pharmacy based clinic delivered in partnership with three local GP practices. The Saturday morning clinic provided an alternative option for patients with hypertension (abnormally high blood pressure) and asthma to have their condition reviewed by a pharmacist within a local pharmacy, rather than having to attend their GP practice.
Commenting on the development of the concept, Raymond Anderson said:
“The pilot evolved from an idea originally developed through a close working relationship with a local GP, Dr Colin Matthews. Many GPs already have practice pharmacists working in their surgeries and prescribing pharmacists have been running clinics within surgeries across Northern Ireland for a number of years. This pilot was an extension of this type of service and to prove that – with proper communication and access to information – community pharmacists can manage long term conditions without a patient having to go to their GP surgery. The GP practice still maintains care of the patient but it’s about offering greater choice and reducing the number of patients who fail to attend appointments at the GP practice because weekday hours are unsuitable for their lifestyle. Instead there can be the option to go along to their local community pharmacy on a Saturday morning.”
Three pharmacists were involved in the delivery of the pilot service (two community pharmacists and a practice pharmacist) supported by remote online access to the GP practices’ records.
Raymond adds: “Community pharmacies are an underused resource and this is just one example of the opportunity that exists to transfer some of the work going on in GP practices, which are overburdened by the number of patients coming through the doors. The key is information sharing. This concept gives pharmacists the same access to patient records that they would normally have in the surgery from the diagnosis, to previous consultation notes and blood results. The pharmacist can then directly input updates into the records and annotate as appropriate.
“This is not about increasing prescribing. Throughout the pilot few new medicines were actually prescribed and a number were actually discontinued. The main focus is to review medication, look at lifestyle issues and whether the patient is correctly following medical advice and to give appropriate advice.”
The clinic achieved positive feedback among the 70 patients who received the service throughout the three month pilot period (January – March 2015), with 97 percent of patients surveyed stating a high satisfaction level.
Raymond now hopes to see a wider roll out of the service throughout the Southern ICP area now that the concept has been successfully piloted and evaluated:
“The feedback from GP colleagues and patients has been exceptionally encouraging and we need to maintain momentum if we want to grow the service. I’d hope to see another 6-10 GP surgeries come on board first and then look to increase the number of pharmacists involved. We also see the potential to develop community pharmacy links with GP Out of Hours through this service by managing patients who do not necessarily need to see a GP or be attending an Out of Hours service.”
Watch Raymond discuss the project more in the video below: