Harness the power of pharmacies to allow pharmacists to treat minor illnesses to tackle patient backlogs, MPs say
- The NHS could treat patients with minor illnesses for half the price in pharmacies
- This could save millions of GP appointments for people with more serious illnesses
Pharmacists could treat patients with minor illnesses for half the price NHS doctors pay to do the same job, a report from MPs found.
The cross-party group is calling on the government to harness ‘the power’ of pharmacies to tackle Covid backlogs and rising demand.
This could free up millions of GP appointments for people with more serious illnesses and free up money for other frontline services, it adds.
However, the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Pharmacy warns that ministers must take ‘urgent action’ to ease funding pressures on local pharmacists at risk of closing. The MPs and colleagues have published their Future of Pharmacy report following a major investigation launched more than a year ago.
Pharmacists could treat patients with minor illnesses for half the price NHS doctors pay to do the same job
It cites evidence from the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee showing that the cost of 40 million small GP appointments a year is £1.2 billion.
However, it would only cost £560 million to transfer these to pharmacies as part of a Community Pharmacy Consultation Service, a saving of £640 million a year that could be reinvested elsewhere. This equates to a cost saving of 53 percent for the Healthcare Service.
The report came as figures show that more than 5 million people waited more than two weeks for a GP appointment in November and fewer than seven in 10 consultations that month were face-to-face. There are 11,200 community pharmacies across England and 89 per cent of the public are within a 20 minute walk of the nearest shop.
However, thousands are at risk of closing because of the impact of high inflation and reduced funding, the report warns.
Around 670 pharmacies have closed since 2015 and the value of the NHS England pharmacy contract has shrunk by a quarter in real terms since 2015. The Daily Mail’s Good Health supplement is running a Save Our Local Pharmacies campaign calling on the government for the valuable services they provide.
Labor MP Taiwo Owatemi, a qualified pharmacist and chairman of the cross-party group, said: ‘Pharmacists emerged when the country needed them most’
Pharmacies already conduct more than 65 million informal consultations per year. However, unlike other services, none of these consultations has specific funding.
The report says one key way local pharmacies could put further pressure on the NHS is by allowing them to supply prescription medicines and by introducing a ‘walk-in option’, with a greater number of conditions they can treat through this service can treat. .
Labor MP Taiwo Owatemi, a licensed pharmacist and chair of the cross-party group, said: “Pharmacists stepped in when the country needed them most, easing pressure from other parts of the healthcare system during the unprecedented challenges of the pandemic.
“They have shown how much more they can do if they get the right policy support and funding.”
A spokesperson for the Department of Health and Social Care said: “Over the next 18 months, we will be increasing the support pharmacists can provide, including taking referrals from A&E, managing oral contraceptive needs and supporting patients who are new to antidepressants. are prescribed.’