Practices should consider employing their own pharmacists in order to improve patient care and help manage practice budgets, said NHS Alliance chairman Dr Michael Dixon at a conference this week.
Dr Dixon said at the National Primary Care Prescribing Advisers conference that pharmacists have proved their worth as PCT prescribing advisers.
He added that a primary practice pharmacist's role goes far beyond making sure the budget is well spent.
They also play a significant role in reducing emergency admissions, he said, improving the management of patients with long-term conditions and supporting practice-based commissioning (PbC) priorities.
Dr Dixon said: "Practice-based commissioning is about doing more in primary care. That means more pressure on the existing practice and community healthcare workforce.
"Through medication reviews, anticoagulation monitoring and much more, pharmacists are reducing the workload on practice staff, freeing up time to focus on service redesign and making sure PbC works effectively.
"General practice is no longer one doc and his dog. It is a multiprofessional team operation. Pharmacists are vital members of that team who have an important role in delivering the best possible healthcare to our patients."
The NHS Alliance and the Primary Care Pharmacists' Association (PCPA) have this week published a guide for frontline practice-based commissioners.
Shaeilen Rao, PCPA chair says that forward thinking PbC groups who take on primary care pharmacist support will be able to "direct this valuable resource towards delivering their own priorities"
He adds: "Primary care pharmacists are a valuable and as yet, largely untapped resouce within practice-based commissioning."
"I am a District Nursing Sister and nurse prescriber currently employed on a part-time basis for Superdrug in Newcastle. I work very closely with the pharmacist and I am looking to develop this new role. It's very exciting and so different from working in the NHS, and I give out a lot of advice to customers in the store. Health on the high street is an untapped resource. Pharmacists are extremely intelligent and readily available" - Sharon Turner, Health Promotion Nurse for Superdrug and Part-time DN Sister, Gateshead PCT