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Policy to help GPs “putting pressure on pharmacists”

18 August 2008

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A union has warned that community pharmacists have seen their workloads increase dramatically because of government policy to take pressure off GPs.

The Pharmacists’ Defence Association (PDA) said patients’ health was being put at risk because of the increased strain pharmacists were under.

It said that there had been a huge increase in the number of prescriptions issued in recent years, and patients were being encouraged to speak to pharmacists about minor ailments instead of making an appointment with their GP.

The PDA said ministers wanted pharmacists to take on more work from GPs as part of the government’s policy to ease pressures on hospitals by “outsourcing” more complex care to surgeries. However, the move had not been backed by extra funding, it added.

“We are getting concerned at the amount of work pharmacists are being asked to do,” said PDA chief John Murphy.

“We welcome the extra responsibilities but this should be matched by funding. Without it, there is a risk that patient care will suffer.”

The Department of Health said it was working with pharmacists to discuss work pressures. One option was to look at whether pharmacy staff other than qualified pharmacists could take on extra duties, a spokeswoman said.

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Pharmacists’ Defence Association