OTC in Action Episode 23: Is there a pharmacist in the house?

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Last week, sister publication OTC.Newsflash reported that the College of General Practitioners and the Royal Pharmaceutical Society in England have proposed that pharmacists work in general practitioner “surgeries” (offices) to improve safety, patient care and waiting times for GP appointments. It brought to mind helping to care for my father-in-law, who had multiple health conditions that required a broad range of specialists prescribing Rx and OTC medications. Joe had four daughters, temporary visiting nurses and therapists, so coordinating his medication was a real challenge, in part because there were so many “helpers”.

The English proposal is meant to improve patient care by softening demands on a stable population of GPs treating an increasing number of patients. Apparently, there is an over-supply of pharmacists who train for five years — one year less than a doctor, one year more than a nurse.

Dr Maureen Baker, Chair of the RCGP, explained: “This isn’t about having a pharmacy premises within a surgery, but about making full use of the pharmacist’s clinical skills to help patients and the over-stretched GP workforce. Patients with long-term conditions such as asthma or diabetes and with complex medicine needs would particularly benefit from having a pharmacist to help navigate the conflicting and confusing information they sometimes receive about their treatment as they move between hospital and community care. Practice teams can also benefit from a pharmacist’s advice to help avoid medicine waste, improve the management of medicines and rationalise costs.”

OTCs will be in Action as pharmacists bring them into the office “surgery” setting by recommending effective, safe and affordable medicines to patents, while ensuring safe use of multiple treatments.

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