In recent years there has been an increase in pharmacists working in general practice in Australia, with evidence showing that pharmacists provide valuable support to the general practice team (Reference: Capital Health Network).
On 1 February 2020, the Workforce Incentive Program (WIP) - Practice Stream commenced, providing eligible general practices with financial support to employ Nurses, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Practitioners, Health workers, Eligible allied health professionals, and Pharmacists.
Pharmacists now included
Pharmacists are now included on this list of eligible allied health professionals for the first time. This means that the opportunity now exists for eligible general practices to use this funding to support employing a pharmacist. If you have previously employed a pharmacist, this funding was not available and funds to support this employment would have come from elsewhere.
For further information about the Workforce Incentive Program, including Program Guidelines, see Department of Health - WIP.
What can pharmacists do in general practice?
"The general practice pharmacists conducted a range of predominantly clinically related activities involving their expertise in the quality use of medications. Involvement in clinical activities to support GPs increased with time working in the practice. Randomised controlled trials are required to collect clinical outcomes and determine which activities conducted by pharmacists are most beneficial to Australian patients and GPs." - AJGP
For further information, see the article from the Australian Journal of General Practice on the pilot trial.
Team-based care in general practice
"The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) values team-based models of care in which a range of healthcare professionals can contribute towards patient health outcomes, maximising use of their skills within their scope of practice.
The inclusion of the general practice–based pharmacist (GPP) role in a team-based model offers the opportunity for practices to increase their capacity to offer medication management and education services. Increasing capacity for these services could lead to less fragmentation of care and fewer medication errors. This team-based model would facilitate pharmacist contribution to care in a setting that is both safe and convenient for the patient.
The inclusion of a GPP in the general practice team appears promising, with research indicating that it brings several benefits for patients." - RACGP
For further information, see the position statement from the RACGP on General practice-based pharmacists.
The GP Pharmacist Return on Investment (ROI) calculator
Raven's Recruitment (part of a larger group, including Medical Recruitment) has created a calculator, excluding possible funding under the WIP, to describe some potential financial benefits of embedding a pharmacist within a multidisciplinary team in the general practice setting. It contains two examples of where a pharmacist, working within a general practice, could contribute to activities that support patient care within the practice - the initiation of Home Medicines Reviews (HMRs), and supporting Chronic Disease Management (CDM).
A number of assumptions about each have been made and the calculator provides a financial estimate of the return on investment in providing these services. As every individual general practice will have its own unique mix of patients and processes for providing different services, each practice will need to consider their own situation. The calculator purely attempts to estimate potential benefits to both patients and practices alike, and the estimates should be considered to be general in nature.
These activities are examples only, in addition general practice pharmacists can also be involved in different activities relating to clinical governance, education and patient-level activities. These could include undertaking clinical audits, providing education to practice staff, offering smoking cessation services and providing practice accreditation support. The types of activities general practice pharmacists will be involved in will depend on the needs of the practice and its patients.
For more information
To find out more about the value a Pharmacist can bring to your Practice and to access the best Pharmacy talent in Australia, contact Heidi Dariz, General Manager of Raven's Recruitment on 1800 429 829 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Medical Recruitment pride ourselves in being specialists in the field of General Practitioner Recruitment and we have many Permanent and Locum GP Positions. We welcome any questions, queries or input in relation to this article, any current changes or anything GP career or job related. Feel free to contact us to discuss your personal requirements and situation.