Community pharmacists and GPs should strengthen their links to improve patient care, the Royal College of GPs (RCGP) and the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) have said in a joint statement.
They have made recommendations for the benefits of improved liaison between pharmacists and GPs in a paper that details how changing roles of both professions can be harnessed and used for patient benefit.
The recommendations include using shared standards to ensure consistency of services and information, better transfer and sharing of patient information facilitated by improved IT links, and joint education and training at undergraduate and postgraduate level.
The paper also explores the way pharmacists and GPs can better work together to improve specific clinical areas such as the management of long-term and chronic conditions, and end-of-life care.
RCGP Chair Dr Clare Gerada said: “In these financially and structurally challenging times, integration across professional boundaries is so important to improving the quality of care we provide to our patients.
“This is a really positive move towards truly joined up care for the health service of the future, and I hope to see many GPs and pharmacists taking these recommendations into account.”
RPS President Martin Astbury said: “This joint work shows clear direction and willingness from both parties to work more closely together to deliver excellent service to patients.
“This statement represents our joint recognition of many good examples where GPs and pharmacists are working in close collaboration and our commitment to extend this further, so that patients can reap the benefits of this partnership, wherever they live in the country.”
Pharmacy Minister Earl Howe said: "Stronger integration is at the heart of the government's plans to modernise the NHS. If there's one big frustration many patients have, it's that the NHS can seem a bit disjointed.
“That is why these recommendations are so important. They will help break down the barriers that can often exist between GPs and community pharmacists to get the best care for patients."