Seven illnesses you can now see a pharmacist for instead of your GP

From today, patients can walk into pharmacies and be treated for a number of common illnesses instead of having to wait for a GP appointment.

This comes as part of a £645 million deal with NHS England, whereby people can visit their high street pharmacy and be treated for seven conditions – earache, sore throat, sinusitis, shingles, impetigo, urinary tract infection, and infected insect bites and stings.

Nine in 10 community pharmacies in England are participating, 10,265 in total, and will now allow walk-in consultations without the need to book.

Amanda Pritchard, NHS chief executive, 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 high street pharmacist, and with eight in 10 people 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.”

There are similar initiatives happening in Wales and Scotland. NHS England said it will free up 10 million GP appointments a year.

It comes as an exodus of overworked GPs from the NHS is making it harder and harder for Britons to see a family doctor.

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

“Patients who need treatment or prescription medication for common conditions like an earache will now be able to get it directly from a pharmacy, without a GP appointment.

“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 10 million 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 move but warned pharmacies are “severely underfunded to the tune of £1.2 billion now, and as a direct result of that are reducing opening hours and even closing completely”.

She added: “This nonsense cannot go on and this stranglehold of chronic underfunding must be relieved now to ensure our community pharmacies continue to exist and can deliver to the potential the Government is expecting.”

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