Pilot scheme sees pharmacists relieve pressure on GPs

According to iNews, a new scheme, set to kick off this week, will see many patients being directed to a pharmacist for the treatment of minor ailments, freeing up GP time

A pilot scheme to have pharmacists step in and relieve pressure on GPs is currently being trialled in London, Devon and the East Midlands.

Patients calling 111 in these areas may now be offered same-day appointments with the local pharmacist for minor ailments, as opposed to a GP or hospital service.

Dr Nikki Kanani, acting director of primary care, NHS England, said of the scheme: “This new scheme offers patients a new option, to be given a booked consultation on the same day with a pharmacist in their local community.

“Using a community pharmacy as the first point of call for clinical advice for minor health concerns will speed up access to excellent care for patients, help to free up GP time and reduce non-emergency A&E visits.”

Under the Digital Minor Illness Referral Service (DMIRS) patients dialling 111, as of this week, could be referred to a local pharmacist.

Once the patient is seen, if appropriate, the pharmacist will send an update of the consultation to the patient’s GP practice. That way, records are kept up-to-date.

Trained pharmacists can give clinical advice and treat a range of minor conditions.

So far over 1,164 pharmacies in London – where the scheme covers all 32 boroughs – have registered to provide the service for the pilot.

In Devon, 141 pharmacies have registered to take part. In the East Midlands, 436 pharmacies are taking part.

Sanjay Ganvir, superintendent pharmacist and professional services director at Green Light Pharmacy Group, said: “The community pharmacy network is the biggest walk-in service in the NHS so it’s great to see the NHS using the huge potential of community pharmacies to help to ensure that GP and A&E care will be more available for those who need it most.”

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