Better access to pharmacy support

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A one-year pilot project that will see patients of GP practices in the Western Isles benefit from the clinical expertise of a pharmacist, has been given funding by the Scottish Government.

The £62,000 pilot project will involve a pharmacist working with two dispensing GP practices to provide pharmaceutical care and advice to patients to deliver better outcomes from their medicines and more integrated care between the GP and pharmacist.

A key focus of the pilot will be the care of patients with long term conditions and patients requiring a variety of different medications.

Importantly, the pilot will inform the long term development of clinical pharmaceutical care support in dispensing GP practices across Scotland, in line with the commitment given in Prescription for Excellence.

It is anticipated that the pharmacist will work with dispensing GP practices in Lewis/Harris, with the other in the Uists/Barra.

There are currently only three community pharmacies within the Western Isles all located in or near the main town of Stornoway.

Cabinet Secretary for Health and Wellbeing, Alex Neil, said: “It is expected this pilot project will make a big difference to those people living in the Western Isles without access to a pharmacist.

“Often people may have questions about their medication but they feel reluctant to ‘bother’ their doctor. By introducing pharmacist support in this way, patients will have access to clinical advice and support from a pharmacist as part of the wider practice team.

“More than this though, the project will help to inform a different career approach in remote and rural areas, complementing recruitment and retention in these communities.

“This an exciting opportunity and demonstrates this government’s commitment to ensuring those people living in rural and remote areas in Scotland have greater access to a full range of NHS services.”

NHS Western Isles Chief Executive Gordon Jamieson said: “The contribution of pharmacists and pharmaceutical care is a key component of safe and effective healthcare.

“Here in the Western Isles, dispensing doctors also play an essential role in the dispensing and supply of medicines to patients in rural communities. Going forward, pharmaceutical care provision should complement and support dispensing doctors’ services and their patients.

“I very much welcome and appreciate this initiative and look forward to the delivery of successful outcomes and an enhanced patient experience.”

The project will also see pharmacists provide pharmaceutical advice to care homes located within the pilot practice areas. In addition, they will work closely with the relevant care settings and practices to develop policies and practices that will help to improve outcomes for patients from their medicines.

The funding forms part of the Scottish Government’s Prescription for Excellence programme, which highlights the value of pharmacists in achieving the Scottish Government 2020 vision for the future of healthcare in Scotland.

It sets out a vision and action plan which aims to deliver 14 outcomes over the next 10 years.