South Shropshire MP Philip Dunne has welcomed today’s news of a new action plan to help recover primary care services. This aims to help meaning millions of patients access faster care for their health needs from their local pharmacy. The plan will also end the early morning ‘rush’ for GP appointments, and pharmacists will be able to prescribe medicines for common health conditions, subject to consultation.
For the first time ever, patients who need prescription medication will be able to get certain medicines directly from a pharmacy, without a GP appointment, for seven common conditions including earache, sore throat, or urinary tract infections, thanks to government investment of £645 million over two years to expand community pharmacy services.
In a significant new step, up to half a million people a year will be able to self-refer for key services, including physiotherapy, hearing tests, and podiatry, without seeing their GP first.
Almost half a million women will no longer need to speak to a practice nurse or GP to access oral contraception and will instead be able to pop into their local pharmacy for it.
Tens of thousands more people will be at lower risk of a heart attack or stroke, with the NHS more than doubling the number of people able to access blood pressure checks in their local pharmacy – 2.5 million, up from 900,000 carried out last year.
The actions set out in the plan are expected to free up around 15 million GP appointments over the next two years for patients who need them most.
Ending the early morning ‘rush’ for appointments is a key part of the plan, to end patients having to wait on hold only to be told to call back another day for help.
GP teams are already treating record numbers, with half a million more appointments delivered every week compared to pre-pandemic.
Commenting Philip Dunne said:
“This is an important step in meeting the government's commitment to modernising primary care and improving patient access. These reforms should have a significant positive impact on patients in South Shropshire and nationwide, ensuring they receive the care they need in a timely manner.
“Investing in advanced technology and training for those who triage care will not only benefit patients by making their healthcare experience more convenient but will also alleviate the workload pressures on our dedicated general practice teams.”