Steve Double, Member of Parliament for St Austell and Newquay has welcomed the national rollout of the Government’s Pharmacy First approach following its successful trial in Cornwall.
92 pharmacies in Cornwall have already signed up to Pharmacy First, which enables pharmacists to utilise more of their medical skills and training. Patients using the service can receive treatment for seven common health conditions from their local pharmacy without the need to visit a GP or have a prescription.
Their pharmacist helps with conditions include sinusitis, sore throat, earache, infected insect bite, impetigo, shingles, and uncomplicated urinary tract infections in women. Following the assessment, the pharmacist can then supply the prescription-only medicines, including antibiotics and antivirals, to treat the problem.
The Pharmacy First approach will not only speed up access to essential care for patients, but also help to reduce pressure on local GP services by directing people to more appropriate places to be treated. Backed by up to £645 million, 95 per cent of pharmacies across England have opted-in so far, meaning that patients will be able to receive care more quickly without the need to wait for a GP appointment.
The Pharmacy First approach builds on the other measures outlined in the Primary Care Recovery Plan last spring, including tackling the 8am rush by giving GPs new digital tools and providing more GP staff and more appointments.
In combination, the Primary Care Recovery Plan aims to free up 10 million GP appointments a year nationally by next winter, and give the public more choice in where and how they access care.
Commenting, Steve said:
“I have always been a passionate champion for our community pharmacies and the excellent health services they provide.”
“As former Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Pharmacies it was great to see our brilliant pharmacies in Cornwall once again leading the way after the Government chose Cornwall to be a pilot location for the Pharmacy First service, and it’s great to see that the rest of the country will now be able to experience this exceptional service that we in Cornwall already have.”
“I will continue to work with the Government to support our pharmacies and the excellent teams that work there, in order to ensure they remain a pivotal part of our health care system.”
Health and Social Care Secretary, Victoria Atkins MP said:
“I’m determined to deliver faster, simpler, fairer access to care for patients, and the expansion of Pharmacy First will mean patients can get treatment for common conditions without needing to see their GP first.
“This is good news for patients and good news for the NHS. It will free up millions of GP appointments per year and mean that patients can get quick and effective treatment from their local pharmacy.
“As four in five people live within a 20-minute walk of a pharmacy, for many seeing their local pharmacist will be the easiest option – so this initiative will have real benefits for patients and help cut NHS waiting lists.”