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Working as a primary care pharmacist

Primary care pharmacists’ work is varied. Like other areas of pharmacy practice, work is normally focused around the safe and effective use of medicines, but may also include advising on the best use of the NHS medicines budget.

Variety

Pharmacists working in primary care will work closely with GPs, practice nurses and community pharmacists and other health care professionals, and many are involved in:

  • offering advice to GP practices on good prescribing
  • offering advice to community pharmacists on professional development, the NHS community pharmacy contract and the quality of their services.

Commissioning

Some primary care pharmacists work in strategic commissioning roles and have a lead role for all issues related to medicines and prescribing. Pharmacists with strategic roles are likely to have responsibility for or contribute to:

  • ensuring that local prescribing is evidence-based, follows best practice and represents value for money for the NHS
  • developing local formularies (lists of recommended medicines)
  • planning, commissioning and the delivery of pharmacy services
  • the financial management of prescribing budgets
  • supplying certain medicines such as vaccines to community units.

Many primary care pharmacists provide professional input to commissioning services from local community pharmacies. They may also be involved in contract monitoring or clinical governance (quality management) arrangements for pharmacies on behalf of the local primary care organisation or local professional network. Some will provide education and training for local prescribers and other healthcare professionals, such as smoking cessation co-ordinators. In practice, there may be a team of primary care pharmacists each taking a lead for one or more of these areas of work.

Locality
 
Some primary care pharmacists may work exclusively for a GP practice on a whole range of issues related to prescribing practice and many run specific clinics for the practice. They may also provide education and training on therapeutics and prescribing issues to prescribers within the practice or locality.

The type of work carried out by primary care pharmacists and their places of work may change as new NHS commissioning arrangements are implemented.