Seven illnesses patients are told to see a pharmacist for instead of their GP

You should now seek help for seven illnesses or conditions at pharmacies rather than booking a GP appointment (Picture: Getty Images)

Patients are being told to visit a pharmacist to treat seven common illnesses instead of making an appointment with their GP.

A new NHS deal means people will be able to visit high street pharmacies to receive treatment for seven conditions, freeing up time for doctors.

The £645 million deal with NHS England means more than 10,000 community pharmacies – nine in 10 – will allow walk-in consultations without the need to book to seek treatment for a wider range of illnesses.

It’s hoped the move will make it easier for people to access care, and free up 10 million GP appointments every year.

The new scheme in England follows similar programmes rolled out in Wales and Scotland.

Amanda Pritchard, NHS England chief executive, said: ‘GPs are already treating millions more people every month than before the pandemic, but with an ageing population and growing demand, we know the NHS needs to give people more choice and make accessing care as easy as possible.

You should now go to a pharmacy if you have a urinary tract infection (Picture: Getty Images)

‘People across England rightly value the support they receive from their high street pharmacist, and with eight in ten living within a 20-minute walk of a pharmacy and twice as many pharmacies in areas of deprivation, they are the perfect spot to offer people convenient care for common conditions.’

The seven conditions which can now be treated at a pharmacy are:

  1. Ear ache
  2. Sore throats
  3. Sinusitis
  4. Shingles
  5. Impetigo
  6. Urinary tract infections
  7. Infected insect bites and stings

Dr Leyla Hannbeck, chief executive of the Association of Independent Multiple Pharmacies, welcomed the move but warned that pharmacies are ‘severely underfunded to the tune of £1.2 billion now, and as a direct result of that are reducing opening hours and even closing completely’.

She added: ‘This nonsense cannot go on and this stranglehold of chronic underfunding must be relieved now to ensure our community pharmacies continue to exist and can deliver to the potential the government is expecting.’

This week also sees NHS England adding a new service to its app which could bring an end to paper prescriptions.

Digital prescriptions became available to millions of people from Tuesday – and people without a nominated pharmacy will be able to use a barcode in the app to collect their medication, instead of needing a paper version.

There are already 3.1 million prescriptions requested through the NHS App every month, but it’s hoped the new service will free up more time for GP staff.

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