Projects per year
Despite a mutual interest in optimising the benefits of medication for patients, the general practitioner (GP) and community pharmacist (CP) often work in isolation from one another, both physically and figuratively. Sources of tension include pharmacy’s ‘shopkeeper’ image, traditional medical hierarchies and potential encroachment on professional boundaries. This paper examines GP and CP perceptions of their interactions and negotiations and, drawing on the works of Stein and Goffman, identifies a set of ‘unwritten’ rules, termed the ‘GP-pharmacist game’, which involves the concept of ‘face-work’. Qualitative interviews with 20 GPs and 23 CPs located in four geographically and demographically different areas in England were conducted during 2010-11. Key rules of the game include the pharmacist avoiding blaming the GP, using discretion in front of patients, and balancing the necessity and frequency of the communication. This paper argues that whilst adhering to the ‘GP-pharmacist game’ may avoid conflict and ‘get the job done’, it may also constrain efforts to meet wider health care policy aims of a more collaborative relationship.