Since 2015, pharmacists have been integrating into English general practices and more recently into primary care networks. General practice-based pharmacists provide a range of patient-facing services, such as medication reviews, management of long-term conditions and minor ailments, prescribing duties and answering queries over the telephone. Literature reports patients’ satisfaction with general practice-based pharmacists’ services, however, previous research captured only limited experiences. The aim of the current study was to pursue an extensive exploration of patients’ experiences of pharmacists in general practice.
General practice-based pharmacists, working in practices in West London, Surrey and Berkshire, handed invitation packs to patients seen during consultations. Patients that wanted to take part in the study were invited to undertake a qualitative, in-depth, face-to-face, semi-structured interview within the practice with which each patient was registered. Interviews lasted from 15 min to more than 1 h and were audio-recorded. Recruitment continued until data saturation. Audio-recordings were transcribed verbatim and transcripts analysed thematically.
Twenty participants were interviewed. Four themes were discerned: awareness (“I had been coming to this practice for 24 years and I didn’t know that there was a pharmacist”); accessibility (“People ring for a GP [general practitioner] appointment … it’s Monday and they [receptionist] tells you ‘We can slot you in on Friday’ … with a pharmacist on board, they can [instantly] look at you”); interactions (“I’ve always had a really good interaction with them [pharmacists] and they listen and they take on board what I’m trying to say”); and feedback (“It’s easier [to collect feedback instantly] because I could have forgotten half of what they [pharmacists] have told me in an hour or so’s time”).
Findings indicate that pharmacists’ integration into general practices could improve accessibility to, and the quality of, care received. The findings will assist policy development to provide general practice-based pharmacists’ services as per patients’ needs.