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Back in December 2015, the Department of Health announced a five-year initiative that would see additional investment to deploy General Practice Pharmacists (GPPs) in GP Practices to promote safer, more rational and cost-effective prescribing and to deliver better health and wellbeing outcomes for patients. Since April 2016, GP Federations have been recruiting GPPs
to work as an integral part of the general practice team to deliver direct patient care and increase capacity in primary care.

Our GPP workforce across NI now stands at over 340 pharmacists and adds a valuable resource to practice teams. The amount of pharmacist time allocated to each practice is determined largely by practice size but other factors can be taken into account.

General Practice Pharmacists (GPPs) work as an integral part of the multi-disciplinary general practice team. In addition to the practice team, the GPP works within and is supported by the local GPP team and NI-wide GPP network.  Every GP practice in NI avails of the services of a GPP through membership of the GP Federation. Although GPPs have a well-defined and wide ranging remit, the GPP role within an individual practice can vary according to practice need and priorities.

 

The role of a general practice pharmacist includes some of the following tasks; resolving day-to-day medicine issues and consulting with and treating patients directly. This includes providing help to manage long-term conditions, advising those taking multiple medicines (polypharmacy) and delivering clinical advice about treatments. They will also assist with communication across a patient’s care pathway, manage medicines shortages by suggesting suitable alternatives where appropriate, and mentor newer pharmacists, depending on their level of experience. A general practice pharmacist works collaboratively with health care professionals from all disciplines to improve outcomes for patients.

All four Northern GP Federations have two Lead Pharmacists for the General Practice Pharmacist service and they are responsible for the delivery of this service to promote safe, cost-effective and evidence-based prescribing. The Lead Pharmacists have responsibility for the management and clinical supervision of General Practice Pharmacists within the Federation. Alongside this job role, Lead Pharmacists also work in individual GP practices providing clinical reviews and working to the KPIs. 

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What is a General Practice Pharmacist?

General practice pharmacists are highly qualified health professionals who train for many years to become specialists in medicines and how they work. They can work directly with you, as part of the general practice team, to make sure you get the best from your medicines. Having a pharmacist in the practice team means you can be treated by the medicines expert in the practice. All pharmacists are registered with the Pharmaceutical Society of Northern Ireland.

When will I see a GPP?

You will see a general practice pharmacist when you need expert advice on your medicines. If your condition is new, you will usually see a GP first, who may then refer you on to a practice nurse or practice pharmacist. Below are some examples of how a general practice pharmacist can help:

Filling Prescription
Image by Sahej Brar

long Term Conditions 

If you have a condition such as asthma, type 2 diabetes, arthritis or high blood pressure, the general practice pharmacist can review the medicines you’re taking to make sure they’re working for you. They can also help you with lifestyle changes to help you manage your condition.

Experiencing Side efffects

If you are experiencing side effects from your medicines, you and the general practice pharmacist can discuss this and work together to find a solution, such as changing your medicine or the dosage. If you are taking a number of different medicines, the general practice pharmacist can help make sure they are working well together.

Medication
Person Getting Vaccinated

Reviewing your medicines

If you are taking medicines long-term, you should be seen for a review at least once a year. The general practice pharmacist can review all your medicines, discuss how they are working for you and carry out health checks, such as taking your blood pressure. They can also arrange for you to have blood or other tests.

After a stay in hospital

If your medicines have been changed while you were in hospital, the general practice pharmacist can explain these changes and ensure you get the maximum benefit from these medicines.

Hospital
Image by Towfiqu barbhuiya

How to I make an appointment? 

In the same way that you consult with a GP or a practice nurse, you can consult with a general practice pharmacist either in the practice or by telephone. Seeing the pharmacist does not replace an appointment with a doctor. You will still be able to see your GP if you need to.

 

A general practice pharmacist will not give you your medicines. You should collect your medicines from a community pharmacy in the usual way. Please let the surgery know if you need to cancel or reschedule your appointment.

 

For more information contact the pharmacist in your practice.

Nicola Smyth

Lead GPP

East Antrim Federation

Karen Foreman

Lead GPP

East Antrim Federation

Joanne Caldwell

Lead GPP

Antrim Ballymena Federation

Aislinn McCarry

Lead GPP

Antrim Ballymena Federation

Niall O'Kane

Lead GPP

Mid Ulster Federation

Claire Young

Lead GPP

Mid Ulster Federation

Janet Magee

Lead GPP

Causeway Federation

Donna Campbell

Lead GPP

Causeway Federation

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