NHS England has announced plans to place 1500 new pharmacists in doctors' surgeries over the next four years, to ease the burden on GPs.

A study has shown that having a pharmacist working 4 sessions a week in a surgery saved over 400 hours of GP time over a year.

Many of the practices involved are in the South West.

The plan to incorporate in-house pharmacists in surgeries follows a recent nationwide trial.

Frances Loftus is a pharmacist at Christchurch Medical Practice in Bristol which was involved in the trial.

She helps patients with long term conditions like arthritis and hypertension, and also helps them manage their medications.

She says people should trust pharmacists as they have a wealth of experience.

As pharmacists we have a lot of training in medication and use of medication. We're very well qualified professionals. Most of the people coming into these kind of roles have worked in a community pharmacy or a hospital pharmacy setting for a number of years before they move into general practice.

Frances Loftus

GPs train for ten years before achieving qualified status.

Pharmacists train for five years with an extra 18 months specialist training before working in a doctors' surgery.


surgeries across Bristol, North Somerset, South Gloucestershire will incorporate the change

Surgeries will share pharmacists, with 16 full time pharmacists covering all 46 practices in Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire.

6 full-time pharmacists based in Devon will cover 24 surgeries.

NHS England says the move will reduce waiting times. Credit: ITV West Country

The government says it is aiming to recruit 5000 extra GPs by 2020.

Dr Tharsha Sivayokan is a GP partner at the same medical centre as Ms Loftus.

He says the scheme must be supported by training more doctors.

In the short term a solution such as this does definitely help the pressures that we're facing. But in the longer term absolutely increasing the number of general practitioners is going to be far more beneficial as we're dealing with more complex care, multiple illnesses that people are suffering with, and the benefits of having more GPs will definitely be seen investing in that.

Dr Tharsha Sivayokan