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Last Updated: Monday, 4 September 2006, 14:08 GMT 15:08 UK
'Expert pharmacists' get go-ahead
People with long-term conditions will be able to get help at the pharmacy
Patients will soon be able to consult "expert pharmacists" under plans revealed by the government.

They will be able to offer advice and support for people with conditions such as diabetes, heart disease and sexually transmitted infections.

The first specialists are set to be in place across England from next summer, the government said.

Doctors' leaders said it was important patients did not get confused about where to go for help.

We need to make sure there is very clear communication between these new expert pharmacists and the patients' GPs
Dr Richard Vautrey, British Medical Association

Pharmacists will have to undergo extra training in order to become accredited as a 'pharmacist with a special interest' (PhwSI).

The Department of Health said that, once qualified, they would be able to deliver extra services to patients such as holding specialist diabetes clinics with patients to help them manage their medicines and illness.

Health minister Andy Burnham said extending roles for experienced staff was a key part of the government's NHS reforms.

"All pharmacists play a valuable role in helping patients manage their medicines, as well as contributing to public health.

"Pharmacists with special interests will give patients more choice about where, when and from whom they seek healthcare advice and treatment for things such as sexually transmitted infections, substance misuse and diabetes, or heart attack and stroke prevention through monitoring anticoagulation medicines."

Patients who need or choose to see their GP will still be able to do so.

Hemant Patel, president of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain said: "Pharmacists are going to be helping people with long-term illnesses like diabetes and asthma to cope with their treatment outside hospital.

"It will mean that more people can enjoy a better quality of life in their own home."

But Dr Richard Vautrey of the British Medical Association's GPs committee, said: "We welcome any additional services that patients can access but we must avoid patients getting confused about where they should go for expert help.

"We need to make sure there is very clear communication between these new expert pharmacists and the patients' GPs so that they know of the advice that has been given and that the care that is provided for individual patients is coordinated properly."


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