Approaching two years in post this July, South West Federation Practice Based Pharmacists in GP practices across Fermanagh have had a "positive" impact on alleviating pressures on GPs.

Since their introduction in GP practices, Practice Based Pharmacists have become an integral part of the primary care team. Their role has evolved depending on practice needs but their duties are underpinned by alleviating the workload from GPs in relation to medications. For some Practice Based Pharmacists this means involvement in face to face chronic disease clinics where they will be reviewing patients including their medications. Practice Based Pharmacists are already Independent Prescribers or working towards their qualification which allows them to prescribe in their areas of expertise. All Practice Based Pharmacists are also heavily involved in medication reconciliations in the practices.

Ruth Coalter, Lead Practice Based Pharmacist, South West Federation PBPs commented: "We are on hand for GPs to alleviate medication related problems. Receptionists can then triage to us those kind of queries, instead of those being directed to GPs increasing their workload when they don’t necessarily need to be involved in things like that."

The team of 11 Practice Based Pharmacists who cover 22 GP practices across Fermanagh and Tyrone include Aine Brennan, Roisin Breen, Jane Fleming, Siobhan Gallen, Fiona Leonard, Rosemary Maguire, Annette McCarron, Timothy McClure, Ian McLaren, Siobhan McNulty, Helen Smyton, and Caroline Tracey. Ms. Coalter currently works very closely with Dr. Haigney the Lead Practice Based Pharmacist GP of the Federation. She wanted to express her appreciation of the support and enthusiasm provided by Dr. Haigney and the other GPs on the South West Federation Board who have the continual vision for their role; Dr. Bradley, Dr. Deehan, Dr. Cathcart, Dr. Richey, Dr. Wright and Rachel Forbes, Operation Manager.

Ms. Coalter explained that Practice Based Pharmacists are in addition to Community Pharmacists and haven't "taken away from other roles." She said: "We are an additional role to support those in the GP setting and provide more medication advice at that level."

She added: "There is just that dedicated time to discuss that with patients, and just really increase safety and governance in relation to medication in the GP setting."

Noting that feedback from GP Practice Managers has been "positive," Ms. Coalter said: "They have seen that this is one of the projects that has been really beneficial to GP practices. Obviously it’s always in the news about the pressures GP practices are under and primary care in it’s entirety. This is one thing that’s trying to alleviate that pressure so they would say that it’s definitely been one of those things that they have really seen a benefit to."

The South West Federation look in anticipation to wave six in April 2020 when there will be increased pharmacist time for the practices. The team of Practice Based Pharmacists within the South West Federation are enthused in their role and work together as a team over the various practices, which is constantly being enhanced as they develop in their role and systems are developed to assist with this.

“I would like to thank all the Practice Based Pharmacists within the South West Federation for their continual dedication, hard work and enthusiasm for this evolving role. The Practice Based Pharmacists within the South West have come together to create this team within primary care from its infancy in July 2017 and I look in anticipation to the future to the development of this exciting role. The continual support from GPs, Practice Managers and other practice staff is paramount to the success and integration of this role to date and I look in anticipation to these relationships being enhanced further,” Ms. Coalter concluded.