Tens of thousands of Sunderland patients will now be able to access a pharmacist at their local GP practice thanks to funding obtained by Sunderland GP Alliance.

The NHS England pilot scheme asked for proposals that would see closer integration of pharmacy with general practice, reducing pressure on GPs and improving services for patients.  These pharmacists will work as part of the general practice team to resolve day-to-day medicine issues, and consult with and treat patients directly.  This includes providing extra help to manage long-term conditions, advice for those on multiple medications and better access to health checks.

As Simon Stevens, Chief Executive of NHS England said: “Joint working between pharmacists and GPs has the potential to have major benefits for both patients and clinical professionals. This pilot will be a win-win for GPs, pharmacists and patients.

“By testing these new ways of working across professional boundaries we are taking another step forward to relieving some of the pressure that GPs are clearly under and ensuring patients see the health professional that best suits their needs.”

Jon Twelves, Chief Executive of Sunderland GP Alliance added: “This is a great achievement for Sunderland as the pilot scheme was heavily oversubscribed, and reflects the willingness of the city’s practices to work together to deliver patient benefits.

“We’re very confident that the pilot will be a success and become a permanent feature of general practice in the area, and we feel sure that patients will welcome the opportunity to both see the most appropriate health professional for their needs and the increase in GP capacity this scheme will create.”

The pilot is due to commence in April 2016, and run for four years.  Further information is available from NHS England.