Sunday, 14 April, 2024
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UK pharmacists to treat for common ailments, cutting out GPs

Under changes to pharmacy regulations in England, customers can now get treatment for seven common conditions without needing to see doctors, freeing up 10m GP appointments a year, according to NHS England.

The pharmacists will be able to assess and treat patients for sinusitis, sore throat, earache, infected insect bites, impetigo, shingles and uncomplicated urinary tract infections in women under 65, without a GP appointment or prescription.

More than nine in 10 community pharmacies in England – 10 265 in total – will be offering the checks under the Pharmacy First scheme, reports The Guardian.

Pharmacies will each receive an initial fixed payment of £2 000 for providing the scheme, plus £15 for every consultation and a monthly fixed payment of £1 000 if they do a minimum number of consultations.

Amanda Pritchard, chief executive of NHS England, said: “GPs are already treating millions more people every month than before the pandemic, but with an ageing population and growing demand, we know the NHS needs to give people more choice and make accessing care as easy as possible.

“People across England rightly value the support they receive from their pharmacists, and with eight in 10 living within a 20-minute walk of a pharmacy and twice as many pharmacies in areas of deprivation, they are the perfect spot to offer people convenient care for common conditions.”

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said: “Community pharmacies already do a tremendous job at treating minor conditions and with the Pharmacy First service – backed by £645m – we’re determined to go further and unlock their full potential to deliver routine care.

“This is about ensuring people get the treatment they need closer to home, while crucially helping deliver on our plan to cut waiting lists – by freeing up 10m GP appointments a year – so people get the care they need more quickly.”

Dr Leyla Hannbeck, chief executive of the Association of Independent Multiple Pharmacies, welcomed the decision but warned that pharmacies were “severely underfunded to the tune of £1.2b now and as a direct result of that are reducing opening hours and even closing completely”.

Paul Rees, chief executive of the National Pharmacy Association, said the scheme would “play to the strengths of pharmacists as medicines experts” and free up GPs for other work.

“This could be a stepping stone to the development of other NHS clinical services in the future, as patients become familiar with going to their local pharmacy for primary care.”

 

The Guardian article – Pharmacies in England to begin treating patients for seven common conditions (Open access)

 

See more from MedicalBrief archives:

 

England’s pharmacists allowed to prescribe antibiotics without GP approval

 

Getting to see a British GP is ‘like breaking into Fort Knox’

 

Pharmacists recruitment drive after Botswana nurses refuse to fill scripts

 

 

 

 

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