Background. Despite pharmacists having increased involvement in managing minor illness, many patients continue to attend their GP with problems that could be managed by community pharmacists. Objective. Our aim was to investigate the prevalence of visits to the GP that GPs felt could be managed by a pharmacist, and to explore patients' reasons for such visits. Methods. This cross-sectional questionnaire study was conducted at 13 general practices in West Sussex, UK. A questionnaire was given to all patients attending appointments with their GP in these practices over a 1-week period, asking what the presenting problem was and whether the advice of a pharmacist had been sought. If patients had not sought the advice of a pharmacist, they were asked why not. The GP was then asked to indicate whether, in their opinion, the patient's problem could have been managed by a community pharmacist. Results. The response rate was 94% (3984), representing 87% of all patients consulting their doctor during the week of the study. GPs felt that only 7% (260) of these visits could have been managed by a community pharmacist. The proportion of ‘unnecessary’ visits was significantly higher (P < 0.001) amongst young adults, those presenting with new medical problems and those consulting about a child's health. Skin and musculoskeletal problems were the most common causes of ‘unnecessary’ visits to the GP. The majority of patients making ‘unnecessary’ visits (59%) disagreed with the GP and felt that the pharmacist would not have been appropriate for their problem. Conclusions. GPs and patients were, on the whole, in agreement over which conditions were appropriate for GP attention. There is, however, a need for education to increase awareness of the roles of pharmacists, aimed particularly at young adults and at those with children.
- referrals and consultations