NHS England has approved funding for further 160 surgery-based pharmacist posts.
It means that the total of clinical pharmacists working across more than 3,200 GP practices will increase from around 580 to more than 1,100, covering a population of nearly 34 million patients.
A pilot programme to get pharmacists to work in general practice was initially launched in July 2015 but after a few months, funding rose from the initial £15m to £31m, which benefited around 700 practices.
Given the popularity of the programme, a new central investment of £112m was implemented with the General Practice Forward View (GPFV), to guarantee those practices initially not in the pilot would benefit from the scheme. The programme is set to bring a further 1,500 pharmacists in general practice by 2020.
Practices which have a clinical pharmacist allow their GPs to spend more time dealing with patients with greatest needs.
According to a NHS England case study, one practice in Devon managed to reduce the need for GP appointments by 30% and save around 400 hours of GP time per year by having a clinical pharmacist on site.
GP and NHS England director of primary care Dr Arvind Madan said: ‘The clinical pharmacist programme has proven to be a hugely popular with practices, patients and pharmacists themselves.
‘Clinical pharmacists have a wealth of knowledge and skills to offer great patient care, in a more convenient way and are also taking some of the pressure off GPs, particularly at this time of year when we know demand is even greater than usual.’
Practices that previously did not take part in the scheme will have until 19 January to apply for funding.