Patients in Northamptonshire will be able to get treatment for seven common conditions at their high street pharmacy from today without needing to see a GP, as part of a major transformation in the way the NHS delivers care.
Highly trained pharmacists will be able to assess and treat patients for sinusitis, sore throat, earache, infected insect bite, impetigo, shingles, and uncomplicated urinary tract infections in women (under the age of 65) without the need for an appointment or prescription.
The major expansion of pharmacy services will give the public more choice in where and how they access care, aiming to free up 10 million GP appointments a year across the country.
Kevin Giles from East Leake is a patient – he was surprised by the ease and speed when he was referred by his GP, seen and treated by the pharmacist all on the same day.
“I had a telephone appointment with my GP for an earache that I have been suffering with.
“My GP explained that this is something that I can visit my local pharmacy for and that they’ll make a referral. I wasn’t sure what to expect but a little while later (on the same day) the pharmacy called and asked me to come in.
“It was really simple and easy, they are right next to my GP surgery so practical too. I was happy to be seen on the same day and was prescribed medication by the pharmacist.
“No complaints from me, the pharmacy staff were lovely. Knowing that I can visit my pharmacy directly for minor illnesses is great and will save time.”
The scheme is part of the NHS and government’s primary care access recovery plan, which committed to making accessing healthcare easier for millions of people.
Amanda Pritchard, NHS 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.
“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.
“This is great news for patients – from today you can pop into one of more than 10,000 high street pharmacies in England to get a consultation on seven common conditions including ear-ache, a sore throat or sinusitis at a convenient time, with many pharmacies open late into the evening.
“This is all part of major transformation in the way the NHS delivers care, with the health service determined to giving people more choice in how they can access treatment.”
Community pharmacies already play a vital role in keeping their local communities healthy and well. And Pharmacists are now ramping up the number of life-saving blood pressure checks given to at-risk patients over the next year with a commitment to deliver 2.5 million a year by Spring 2025 – up from 900,000 carried out in 2022. It is estimated this could prevent more than 1,350 heart attacks and strokes in the first year.
It builds on the successful expansion of the contraceptive pill service in December 2023, with almost 5,000 pharmacies in England now offering women the chance to get a supply of oral contraception over the counter from their pharmacy without needing to first see their GP.
Our support from your pharmacy page has further information about the conditions you can seek support from your pharmacy for and a list of participating pharmacies