Pharmacy Team

Clinical Pharmacists and Pharmacy Technicians have become a staple of the General Practice workforce in recent years.

Who are clinical pharmacists?

In 2019 General Practices formed into small groups called Primary Care Networks (PCNs).

PCNs received funding to recruit additional role staff such as Pharmacists and Pharmacy Technicians. DDHFs Pharmacy team started with one Pharmacist and over the past 5 years has developed into a team of around 25 staff.

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 help optimise treatment – a
change in dose, or switch to another type, for example.

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 have been recruited support 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.

Having clinical pharmacists in GP practices means that GPs can focus their skills where they are most needed, for example on diagnosing and treating patients with more complex conditions.

All clinical pharmacists will undertake additional clinical training, and work to deliver appropriate structured medication reviews, improve medicine safety, support care homes, and run practice clinics.

Up to 10% of hospital admissions in the elderly population are medicines-related and research shows that as many as 50% of patients do not take their medicines as intended. Where appropriate, and in the best interest of a patient, clinical pharmacists will advise on the potential of stopping, reducing or advise on alternatives for those taking, non-effective medicines, over-medicating or inappropriately using antibiotics. These reviews are especially important for patients who may take different medications for more than one long term condition, or those prescribed ‘high risk’ medication.

Who are Pharmacy Technicians

Pharmacy Technicians work closely alongside the pharmacists. Pharmacy technicians have a level 3 diploma in Pharmaceutical Sciences.

Technicians can ensure timely actioning of medication changes received on discharge letters from hospital, complete new patient medication reconciliations for patients newly registered to the practice to ensure they can order their regular medications and are invited in for any necessary reviews.

Pharmacy Technicians can conduct telephone, face to face appointments and offer home visits for patients to counsel on medications, discuss side effects/ issues with medications and to discuss lifestyle and preventative medication initiation. They also arrange follow up appointments for patients who have seen their GP and require further support with medication, this frees up more time for the GP’s and pharmacists to conduct clinical reviews. Technicians also undertake regular safety searches on the clinical computer system for high-risk medication to ensure the appropriate blood test monitoring is completed, ensuring the safe prescribing of these medications.


Total Patients Contacts with Pharmacy Team from June 2022 to June 2023

Thomas Watkinson, Head of Pharmacy and Clinical Services

Our Pharmacy team spends a mixture of time based in Practice and at our head office working remotely. On a typical day they complete a mixture of face-to-face and remote consultations. They also work with staff in practices to help improve prescribing processes plus important tasks to complete.

Throughout a typical working day GPs and Admin staff will send the team tasks to complete. Examples of this are

  • Approving a patient’s acute medication request
  • Offering advice on a more complex medication issue
  • Completing an annual medication review
  • Finding a suitable alternative to an out of stock medication
  • Liaising with hospitals to clarify treatment plans for newly discharged patients

The NHS set various prescribing related goals which the team help towards. Most recently these have been related to reducing the risk of antimicrobial resistance, reviewing medications of patients at high risk (more than 10 regular medications, frail/elderly, on addictive drugs such as opioids and care home residents), reducing the environmental impact of medications, and improving the monitoring of higher risk medications.


Keavney Darby, Clinical Pharmacist

Within my role as a Clinical Pharmacist in a GP practice I’m fortunate enough to collaboratively work with GPs and other members of the practice team to contribute to high quality patient care. This often involves providing expert advice daily when dealing with medication queries from both patients and healthcare professionals. Ultimately, my role day to day allows me to support and empower patients to get the best outcomes from their medicines. It’s a hugely rewarding responsibility being able to work closely with patients to minimise risks associated with their medicines, and in turn aiming to maximise overall quality of life for all patients!