GP plan asks more patients to use pharmacies

The BBC report how more people will be able to access health services without needing to see a GP under a plan launched by officials in England

It asks patients to use high street pharmacies for some common drug prescriptions and routine tests to ease the pressure on busy doctors.

NHS England says its plan will free up 15m GP appointments over the next two years - around 2% of the total.

But some are concerned about how pharmacies will cope with extra demand.

Data shows there are now fewer local chemists than at any time since 2015. Rising operational costs, staff shortages and reduced government financial support have been blamed.

Pharmacists warn that many more local businesses could close without help.

NHS England chief executive Amanda Pritchard said pharmacy services will get £645m over the next two years to boost staffing and resources.

She said: "We are already seeing more than half a million patients a week more in GP surgeries than we were pre-pandemic. But we know that we need to go further to expand services and transform the way we provide care."

In an effort to ease the frustration of morning phone calls to try to book appointments, surgeries will get £240m to modernise and be able to deal with multiple calls at once.

The NHS England boss said that within the next year, nine in 10 people should be able to access their GP record on a smartphone to check things like test results, without needing to call their GP.

The recovery plan promises to overhaul stretched GP services by shifting some of the work to other parts of the health service.

Pharmacies are being asked to take on the prescribing of drugs for seven common ailments:

  • earache
  • sore throat
  • sinusitis
  • impetigo
  • shingles
  • infected insect bites
  • uncomplicated urinary tract infections in women

The GP plan comes amid mounting concern about services.

The latest GP patient survey shows 13% rate the service as poor or very poor overall, with nearly half complaining they did not find it easy to get through on the phone and nearly a quarter saying they were not happy with the appointment they were offered.

Doctors' leaders say the crux of the problem is that there are not enough GPs.

The government target to recruit an extra 6,000 GPs by the end of this parliament looks almost certain to be missed.

When the promise was made at the end of 2019, there were just over 28,000 full-time equivalent GPs.

At the end of March, that number had actually fallen to less than 27,500.

However, the number of GPs in training has increased.

Full article:

BBC - GP plan asks more patients to use pharmacies


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