Pharmacists’ role

Harry McQuillan, chief executive of Community Pharmacy Scotland, writes about “an army of pharmacists descending upon GP surgeries to solve current GP recruitment difficulties” (Friends of The Scotsman, 27 May).

I offer some personal comment, as one of the aforementioned foot soldier pharmacists working in a GP practice facing such difficulties.

As highlighted, the GP and pharmacist have very different, but complementary, skills. The GP maintains the primary function of diagnostician.

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Patients already attend the practice nurse or phlebotomist when visiting their general practice, so why not a pharmacist if the situation dictates they are the most appropriate professional?

GPs can spend hours each day on administration, with a significant proportion being medicines-related. My experience is that the pharmacist is the ideal person to assist with this aspect of their workload.

Mr McQuillan proposes a practice pharmacist will weaken links between the practice and community pharmacy. I suggest the opposite is the case.

Who within a GP practice team is best placed to promote what services the local pharmacy can provide?

I regularly direct patients to the pharmacy rather than 
attend the practice if appropriate. I communicate daily with pharmacies to discuss varied patient-related medicines issues.

The community pharmacists know there is someone in the practice who “speaks their language” when problems need to be resolved, without the obstacle of trying to speak to a GP.

It is important the public are informed that where pharmacists are taking on these new roles, we are not there to replace the GP but to work alongside and complement the practice team.

Russell Morrison

Practice pharmacist