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Pharmacists ‘cannot be substitute GPs’

7th April 2008

Medical professionals must ensure that patients continue to appreciate the differences between pharmacists and doctors if the role of pharmacies is expanded, an expert has asserted.

Professor Steve Field, chairman of the Royal College of General Practitioners, made his comments in response to a recent white paper which called for pharmacists to play a greater role in promoting healthcare and preventing sickness.

He remarked that the move will not be a time saver for GPs but rather an “enhancement” of the work primary healthcare teams perform.

GPs are experts in diagnosis and the management of more complicated medical conditions and this should be considered “beyond the scope” of pharmacists, Professor Field continued.

Furthermore, he added that pharmacies are businesses, noting that it is important “profit does not pollute the conversation and that there is no conflict of interest between pharmacists giving advice and their selling particular types of medication”.

Recently, commenting on moves by the MHRA to recall some over-the-counter cough medicines for children, Professor Field asserted that toddlers do not require cough syrup but rather plenty to drink, steam for blocked noses and paracetamol to reduce pain.

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