Pharmacists can now treat these conditions without a GP appointment

SORE throats, earache, impetigo, shingles and more can now be treated by pharmacists – without the need for a GP appointment.

From today (January 31), seven common conditions can be dealt with at pharmacies without needing to see a GP, as part of a major transformation in the way the NHS delivers care.

And in the south west, more than 96 per cent of community pharmacies – nearly 1,000 in total – will be offering the service.

The NHS says pharmacists will be able to assess and treat patients for:
Sore throat
Infected insect bites
Uncomplicated urinary tract infections in women (under the age of 65)

It is hoped the move – part of the NHS and government’s primary care access recovery plan – will free up 10 million GP appointments a year across the country.

And it comes after the expansion of the blood pressure checks and contraceptive pill services at pharmacies last year.

Dr Kheelna Bavalia, medical director for primary care, NHS England South West, said: “This is a great move to increase accessibility to healthcare for patients. We all live increasingly busy lives, and this gives people more options on how and where they access care.

“Community pharmacies already play a vital role in their communities and work closely with the general practices in their areas.

“In taking on these additional roles, this will offer more options for people with common conditions, and potentially free up thousands of GP appointments for those who need them most.

“In addition, our pharmacies in the South West are aiming to provide in excess of 250,000 blood pressure checks by Spring 2025.

“One in three adults in the UK have high blood pressure, with many not even realising they do, so by carrying out these vital health checks, many lives could be saved.”

Catriona Ketiar, chief pharmacist at NHS England South West, added: “Our pharmacists are already doing excellent work to support their communities’ health and wellbeing and, by expanding this commitment further to include these seven common conditions, it will make it even easier and convenient for people to access the care that they need.

“This expansion of their service offer will make the most of the valuable skills of pharmacists and their teams, who have been making an incredible effort to get their services ready alongside their day-to-day operations. They are excited about this opportunity to help reshape the landscape of primary care.”

NHS England South West covers Swindon, Bath, Wiltshire, Bristol, Somerset, Gloucestershire, Devon, Dorset, and Cornwall and Isles of Scilly.

When the scheme was announced, it was welcomed by the National Pharmacy Association (NPA).

Chief executive, Mark Lyonette, said it was a “long overdue” move that could “radically change” the outlook for pharmacies.

“Critically, the service will be backed by new funding, which we hope signals a better understanding both in Government and NHS England about the value pharmacies bring to the health service,” he added.

“If so, it could have long term significance and set us back on track for a sustainable, clinically-focused future, after years of decline.”

And Janet Morrison, CEO of Community Pharmacy England, said: “While we don’t expect a large number of people to be walking in for Pharmacy First consultations on day one of the service – as behaviour change takes time and effort to bring about – January 31 will be a significant and historic day for community pharmacy.

“Pharmacy First represents the first significant investment in the sector for many years and will put us on a stronger footing for the future.”

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