General Health
    1234 · 20 min read

    Which medical conditions can pharmacies now diagnose and treat?

    In a groundbreaking move, thousands of pharmacies across England are now able to assess and treat patients for a number of common conditions, removing the need for a GP appointment or prescription. This initiative, known as the Pharmacy First scheme, has been created to empower pharmacists to provide care for common ailments such as

    • Sinusitis

    • Sore throat

    • Earache

    • Infected insect bites

    • Impetigo

    • Shingles

    • Uncomplicated urinary tract infections in women under 65

    How many pharmacies are participating in the Pharmacy First scheme?

    NHS England estimates that over 90% of community pharmacies in England, totalling 10,265, will participate in the Pharmacy First scheme. This shift in strategy aims to expand healthcare options for individuals, offering more accessible care and relieving the strain on GP services by freeing up around 10 million appointments every year.

    Amanda Pritchard, NHS chief executive, emphasised the importance of enhancing healthcare accessibility: "People across England rightly value the support they receive from their high street pharmacist, and with eight in 10 living within a 20-minute walk of a pharmacy, they are the perfect spot to offer people convenient care for common conditions.

    Lady consulting a pharmacist

    How will the Pharmacy First scheme help financially?

    While welcoming this move, Dr Leyla Hannbeck, chief executive of the Association of Independent Multiple Pharmacies, highlighted the financial challenges faced by pharmacies. She also stressed the urgency of addressing the £1.2 billion underfunding issue to ensure the continued existence and optimal functioning of community pharmacies.

    Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has also expressed the government's commitment to expanding routine care through the Pharmacy First service, backed by £645 million. This approach aims to streamline treatment for minor conditions, enabling patients to access medications directly from a pharmacy without a GP appointment.

    Paul Rees, chief executive of the National Pharmacy Association, sees this scheme as a testament to pharmacists' expertise. He anticipates that patients will benefit from convenient clinical advice in proximity to their daily lives, marking a significant step towards potential future developments in NHS clinical services.

    Can online pharmacies help NHS doctors and surgeries?

    Yes, to truly take the weight off of the NHS and pharmacies, the best thing you can do is use an online provider like UK Meds. UK Meds offers free online consultations for a wide variety of different conditions. If your consultation is successful, you will be given a free private prescription for medication to treat your condition. This not only helps you save time, but it also helps to alleviate stress from overworked, underfunded NHS doctors surgeries, hospitals and pharmacies. 

    Medically Reviewed by:
    Dr. Alexis Missick MBChB. MRCGP
    GMC reference no: 7151419


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