Pharmacy First

From today pharmacists across the country will be able to treat more health conditions without patients needing to see a GP, helping to unlock ten million doctors’ appointments as we stick to the plan to cut waiting lists so people can get the care they need. 

  • The Conservative government has made progress to cut waiting lists but there is more that can be done to make better use of professionals such as pharmacists to cut them further. That is why today we are launching Pharmacy First as part of our primary care recovery plan, meaning pharmacists can treat seven common health conditions such as sinusitis and earache without patients needing to see a GP. 
  • This will help free up to ten million GP appointments, meaning those who genuinely need to see a doctor can do so more quickly, helping to continue to drive down wait times in contrast to Labour-run Wales where patients consistently wait longer because Labour do not have a plan. 

The pandemic put huge pressure on the NHS, but the Conservative Government has made good progress on its priority target to cut waiting lists, virtually eliminating waits of over two years and cutting 18 month waits by over 90 per cent from their peak – but there is more to do.

That is why I very much welcome the Pharmacy First approach, under which 608 pharmacies here across the North East and North Cumbria Integrated care health area will be able to treat common health conditions without patients needing to see a GP,

This will help free up to 10 million GP appointments a year as part of the Conservative Government’s Primary Care Recovery Plan.

By sticking to this plan, the Conservative Government will continue to make progress on improving access to primary care and cutting NHS waiting lists, helping patients to receive the treatment they need more quickly through better use of our community pharmacies.

  • 608 pharmacies in North East and North Cumbria have signed up to Pharmacy First so far, which enables pharmacists to utilise more of their medical skills and training. This will mean that patients from Cumberland to Durham, from Whitehaven to Bishop Auckland and Barnard Castle to Workington 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 will be able to help 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 new 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 withoutthe 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 by next winter, and give the public more choice in where and how they access care.


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