The boss of the National Pharmacy Association urged patients to turn to their local outlets for some health services
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Local chemists could hold the key to slashing NHS waiting lists, patients are told tonight.
Health Secretary Sajid Javid has admitted the waiting list backlog is likely to pass six million by the New Year.
An Institute for Fiscal Studies think tank report warned up to 14 million people could be on waiting lists in England by next autumn.
The National Pharmacy Association urged people to use their community chemists to “break the backlog plaguing” the health service.
It said four in 10 people do not realise pharmacies have consultation areas from which a range of NHS services are provided – and claimed up to 20 million GP appointments could be freed up if pharmacies became a first point of contact in healthcare.
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The NPA said: “Pharmacists’ doors have stayed open day after day, month after month.
“They have become, for all intents and purposes, the visible face of the NHS on the local high street.
“Now they can become its front door.”
Chairman Andrew Lane said: “To make this happen will take an act of political will from our politicians and health leaders.
“While broadly supportive of pharmacies, they have nonetheless cut the funding we need if we are to deliver more for the NHS.”
He added: “They have seen us stay open throughout Covid, stepping up to the plate and serving our communities face to face.
“We are here to help with NHS services, (offer) convenient access to medicines, support for healthy living and prompt clinical advice – all you need to do is ask.”
The Mirror is campaigning to save family chemists.