British Queen celebrates


Pharmacists in England can now prescribe medications for seven minor conditions, including sore throats and earaches, through the Pharmacy First scheme. Patients can obtain prescriptions

directly from most chemists without the need for doctor appointments, potentially saving GP surgeries around 10 million appointments annually. The move has received positive feedback from pharmacy groups, acknowledging it as a significant advancement in patient care. More than 90% of community pharmacies have registered for the service, with each receiving a payment of £2,000 and additional compensation of £15 per consultation, along with £1,000 per month if a minimum number of patients are seen.

The seven conditions covered by the scheme are sore throat, earache, sinusitis, impetigo, shingles, infected insect bites, and uncomplicated urinary tract infections in women. Patients requiring specialized or follow-up care will be referred accordingly. This initiative, similar to existing services in Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland, is expected to provide greater accessibility to healthcare for patients and alleviate the burden on GPs, particularly in light of the increased demand post-pandemic.

NHS England's CEO, Amanda Pritchard, praised the development, emphasizing the importance of expanding choices and facilitating easy access to care for an aging population. The Royal Pharmaceutical Society also hailed it as a "leap forward" in patient care. Pharmacists, like Ade Williams from Bedminster Pharmacy in Bristol, expressed their satisfaction with the scheme, highlighting the positive impact on patient outcomes.

However, concerns have been raised about funding and recent pharmacy closures in England. While the move to empower pharmacists is widely welcomed, the Association of Independent Multiple Pharmacies cautioned that underfunding could lead to further closures, transferring additional workload to remaining pharmacies. To address these concerns, NHS England announced a £645 million investment over two years to expand services offered by community pharmacies. The initiative aims to strike a balance between enhancing patient care and ensuring the sustainability of community pharmacies across England. Photo by Andy Potter, Wikimedia commons.