As you may know, NHS England recently announced a pilot programme of clinical pharmacists working in general practice. Clinical pharmacists 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. Having a clinical pharmacist enables GPs to focus their skills where they are most needed, helping manage the demands on their time.

The Alliance submitted a bid, on behalf of member practices, to employ six pharmacists in Sunderland working across fifteen separate practices. Despite enormous interest in the scheme – nearly 300 applications were made nationally – the Alliance’s proposal was successful. It was also one of the more ambitious bids, comfortably in the top quartile by scale, and has resulted in us attracting over £400k of additional money into the city and into general practice.

The plan is to have the new team in post by April of next year, and we’ll be in touch with participating practices in due course with further information.

Of course, it’s working at scale that has allowed us to be successful with this bid, and it should encourage us to continue to work together and think creatively about what we could achieve. We’re a member owned organisation run by Sunderland general practice for Sunderland general practice, and there will be other opportunities for us to take ownership of service delivery. We might, for example, be able to expand the pharmacy offering, or deliver some services currently sat in a secondary care setting. There are many opportunities, so please keep talking to us about the ones you think we should pursue.