GP crisis: Pharmacies to offer prescriptions for these 7 conditions for first time to free up appointments
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Millions of patients in England will be able to get prescriptions for seven common conditions, plus the contraceptive pill and more blood pressure checks, directly from pharmacies under new plans to tackle the GP crisis in the UK. For the first time, prescriptions for the following conditions will be prescribed by pharmacists without the need to see a doctor or a nurse:
- Sore throat
- Infected insect bites
- Uncomplicated urinary tract infections (UTIs) in women
The proposals will be set out by the government and NHS England in a primary care plan today (Tuesday, May 9). They aim to free up around 15 million GP appointments over the next two years.
It comes after data revealed that 24 million consultations took place over the last five months more than a fortnight after being requested by the patient – almost five million each month on average. Amanda Pritchard, NHS England’s chief executive, said the “ambitious package” would help transform how care was provided within the health service.
She said: “This blueprint will help us to free up millions of appointments for those who need them most, as well as supporting staff so that they can do less admin and spend more time with patients.” Thorrun Govind, chair of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society in England, also praised the plans - dubbing them a “real game changer” for patients.
But Beccy Baird, a senior fellow at the King’s Fund, said not all pharmacies would be able to offer all or any of the new services, meaning the changes could result in patients being “bumped from pillar to post, only to end up back at the GP”. Concerns were also raised that patients may not be able to recognise the seriousness of some conditions, including whether a UTI can be classed as “uncomplicated”.
Professor Kamila Hawthorne, chair of the Royal College of GPs, said the plans included positive steps, but none that were the silver bullet needed “to address the intense workload and workforce pressures GPs and their teams are working under”. GP shortages now top 4,200 which will double to 8,800 by 2031, according to the Health Foundation.
The new proposals, which follow measures announced on Monday (May 8) to make it easier to get GP appointments using online tools, are being backed by £645m over two years. Ministers hope the reforms will launch this winter.