Pharmacists and Technicians
Pharmacists and technicians working in general practices help resolve prescription-related queries and reduce medicine waste and overuse. They also help with communication about medicine shortages by suggesting more cost effective alternatives.
Pharmacists are also responsible for performing annual medication reviews and updating in year changes made by the hospital. Pharmacists will sometimes see patients with common ailments or minor illnesses, and can prescribe if they have undertaken an additional prescribing qualification. Having a pharmacist means that the GPs can focus their skills where they are most needed.
Physician Associate (PA)
This is one of the newest clinical roles to assist patients in primary care. They work independently, under the supervision of the GPs, and have undertaken medical training to support the GPs in the diagnosis and management of patients. Like an ANP they will assess and diagnose patients. This role increases capacity in general practice, reduces the workload, and brings new talent to the NHS adding to the skill mix. Currently a PA is not able to legally prescribe or request x-rays and scans in their own rights, but they can ask a GP to sign a prescription or request the necessary tests.
By 2020, the Department of Health wants to see a total of 1,000 physician associates recruited to primary care roles. This is because of the potential they have to address GP shortages.
Link Workers (Social Prescribing)
Half of GP appointments are for non-physical and non-medical issues such as relationship breakdowns, anxiety, depressions and drug and alcohol addiction, so instead of GPs reaching for their prescription pad and prescribing unnecessary medication, they will send patients to see a social prescriber link worker, for positive health and well-being outcomes.
This holistic approach enables social prescribers to ‘prescribe’ emotional well-being, as well as provide practical assistance to help deal with the issues that are affecting health, through techniques such as motivational interviewing, health coaching and enabling stronger connections with the local community.
Social prescribing can include referrals to tackle loneliness, reduce blood pressure and improve mental health as an alternative to taking medication. Social prescribers also provide a listening ear and practical support to help you deal with a range of crises and improve your emotional well-being. This ‘personalised care’ will encourage and empower patients to take greater control of their health, and will help them recognise their inner strength to remove the perceived barriers in making a positive behaviour change.
Why not attend an educational workshop on a range of well-being topics. For more information click here.
Care Co-ordinators (CCO)
This new role to General Practice provides support to clinical and non-clinical staff when responding to care queries. They are also fundamental in reducing the risk of unplanned hospital admissions and reducing the length of stay in hospital where admission is necessary. They will engage on a daily basis with patients living in care homes or who are housebound. The CCOs provide extra time and expertise to support patients in preparing for, or in following-up, clinical conversations they have with primary care professionals. They work closely with the GPs and other primary care professionals to make sure that appropriate support is made available to patients and their carer’s, and ensuring that their changing needs are addressed. The main responsibility is consulting with patients and determining their needs, developing care plans, co-ordinating patient care services, educating them about their condition, and working with the wider care team to evaluate interventions.