Clinical Pharmacists have become a staple of GP practices’ workforce in recent years.

A Clinical Pharmacists advanced training and specialist knowledge can be invaluable to patients who regularly take more than one type of medication or have a long-term condition.

Who are clinical pharmacists?

In July 2015 nearly 500 Clinical Pharmacists were introduced into General Practice.

This was the first stage of a plan which will lead to 2,000 Clinical Pharmacists in GP surgeries by 2020/21.

Clinical Pharmacists are highly trained experts in medication, having completed a Masters degree in Pharmacy and registering with the General Pharmaceutical Council.

The role is a patient-facing one, providing improved access to specialist medication knowledge.

DDHF employs Clinical Pharmacists who work across our member practices in Durham Dales, all are either qualified as prescribers, or in training.


A key part of a Clinical Pharmacist’s role is to carry out medication reviews with patients. This involves discussing how the patient feels, and how effective they feel their medication is.

The Clinical Pharmacists can then make small adjustments to prescriptions – a change in dose, or switch to another type, for example – to see if the treatment can be optimised. 

For people who regularly take more than one type of medication – often if they have several long-term conditions – the knowledge of side effects or the impact one medication can have on another is crucial to effective management.

The aim is not just to get people well, but to keep them well and increase their ability to manage their own conditions. This in turn can reduce the demands on hospitals and specialist services.

How they help

Through Primary Care Networks – formal groupings of GP surgeries sharing resources – additional Clinical Pharmacists will be recruited to hold clinics and reviews with patients in local surgeries.

For patients, it means more frequent reviews of their medication, and more time to consult with the Clinical Pharmacist, up to 2-3 times as long as a typical GP appointment.

By carrying out regular reviews, Clinical Pharmacists make sure patients have the most appropriate medication for their condition, improving patients’ quality of life. 

It also eases GP and Nurse workloads, freeing up appointments for others.

These reviews are especially important for patients who may take different medication for more than one long term condition, or those prescribed ‘high risk’ medication. 

Clinical Pharmacists closely monitor patients’ health and check there are no side effects or negative reactions to treatment.


Increase in Weekly Demand*
Patients Seen Every Week
Total Patients Seen**

* Average figures ‘18 compared to ‘19

** April ‘19 to December ‘19


Clinical Pharmacist Thomas has been with DDHF since September 2018.

In Thomas Watkinson, Clinical Pharmacist Team Leada typical day there’s a mixture of face-to-face and remote consultations, working with staff in practices improving prescribing processes plus important tasks to complete.

Every morning I’ll review  patients’ medication with them and make sure they’re getting the best treatment possible. Some are in person appointments in surgery, others will be over the phone. As well as being convenient for patients, phone reviews mean I can talk to patients from different practices from one central location.

Through the day, GPs and Admin staff will send me tasks to complete. This can be approving a simple medication request, or offering advice on a  more complex issue. Part of my role is to help practice staff build their knowledge of medication.

I’ll have more clinics in the afternoon, as well as checking over discharge letters. Often when people leave hospital they’ll be prescribed some powerful medication, so it’s important to have regular monitoring in place to make sure there are no adverse effects when they return home.