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Pharmacists lead the way through pandemic with remote consultations

A team of pharmacists have been leading the way by carrying out remote consultations with patients living with long term conditions throughout the pandemic.

Guidance issued by the RCGP and BMA deemed reviews for patients with long term chronic conditions including asthma, COPD, diabetes and at risk warfarin patients as essential during the COVID-19 outbreak. In response, pharmacists from Interface Clinical Services have been working closely with GP practices across the UK to deliver these remotely.

Jack Birchall, Interface’s Head of Service Development, comments: “In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, our clinical pharmacists have been directly supporting practices and PCNs by providing reviews for patients with long term conditions via telephone or video consultation. With access to normal healthcare services severely restricted, these have been a vital link, ensuring the wellbeing of patients whilst reducing the need for patients to visit their surgery.”

Mid & South Essex Health and Care Partnership contracted Interface to deliver asthma support to patients from over 50 GP practices across five CCGs during the pandemic with the objective of providing additional support to vulnerable patients with respiratory conditions. As part of the review, 12,900 planned clinical consultations are taking place with patients via the telephone. During a consultation, a clinical pharmacist ensures the patient is well controlled and compliant with their treatment regimens and are using their inhaler as intended. Advice can be given on how to improve the use of inhalers or spacers and following the review, the pharmacists can instigate any necessary treatment interventions which are then carried out in accordance with clinical guidelines, under the direction of individual practices. The Interface pharmacists carrying out the consultations are highly experienced, having delivered almost 5,500 respiratory clinics in the last five years, reviewing over 56,000 patients.

Mike Drakard, CEO of Leeds based Interface Clinical Services, says: “Following the release of the latest NHS Digital Workforce Statistics data which showed another annual fall in the figures for full-time equivalent GPs practicing around the country, general practice was already trying to cope with immense workload pressures prior to COVID-19. With the effects of COVID-19 continuing to require attention and resources for the foreseeable future, we see a role for clinical pharmacists supporting GPs and other healthcare professionals in providing care for people with long term conditions becoming the new norm. We are all having to adapt our services to include new ways of working and delivering remote clinics will certainly be a way of reducing face to face contact, now and in the future.”

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