ALMOST 1,000 NHS pharmacies across the South West are now able to treat people for common conditions.
From yesterday, people needing help with seven conditions can now get help from a high street pharmacy from today, without needing to see a GP, as part of a major transformation in the way the NHS delivers care in the community.
More than 96 percent of community pharmacies in the South West, nearly 1,000 in total, will be offering this service, making it easier and more convenient for people to access care.
Highly-trained pharmacists will be able to assess and treat patients for sinusitis, sore throat, earache, infected insect bite, impetigo, shingles, and uncomplicated urinary tract infections in women (under the age of 65) without the need for an appointment or prescription.
This expansion of pharmacy services is aimed at giving the public more choice in where and how they access care, while at the same time aiming to free up 10 million GP appointments a year across the country.
The scheme is part of the NHS and government’s primary care access recovery plan, which has committed to making accessing healthcare easier for millions of people.
It builds on the successful expansion of the blood pressure checks and contraceptive pill services that launched in the latter half of 2023, with many of community pharmacies across the South West are now offering women the chance to have a consultation with their pharmacist for a supply of oral contraception without needing to first see their GP.
Dr Kheelna Bavalia, medical director for Primary Care, NHS England South West, added: ‘This is a great move to increase accessibility to healthcare for patients. We all live increasingly busy lives, and this gives people more options on how and where they access care.
‘Community pharmacies already play a vital role in their communities and work closely with the general practices in their areas. In taking on these additional roles, this will offer more options for people with common conditions, and potentially free up thousands of GP appointments for those who need them most.
'In addition, our pharmacies in the South West are aiming to provide in excess of 250,000 blood pressure checks by Spring 2025.
‘One in three adults in the UK have high blood pressure, with many not even realising they do, so by carrying out these vital health checks, many lives could be saved.’
Catriona Ketiar, chief pharmacist, NHS England South West, added: ‘Our pharmacists are already doing excellent work to support their communities’ health and wellbeing and, by expanding this commitment further to include these seven common conditions, it will make it even easier and convenient for people to access the care that they need.
‘This expansion of their service offer will make the most of the valuable skills of pharmacists and their teams, who have been making an incredible effort to get their services ready alongside their day-to-day operations. They are excited about this opportunity to help reshape the landscape of primary care.’