Don’t wait for minor health concerns to get worse - think pharmacy first and help free up 10 million GP appointments per year - The Solihull Observer

Don’t wait for minor health concerns to get worse - think pharmacy first and help free up 10 million GP appointments per year

Solihull Editorial 19th Feb, 2024 Updated: 19th Feb, 2024   0

Don’t wait for minor health concerns to get worse – think pharmacy first and get seen by your local pharmacy team.

That’s the message from the NHS and its new campaign raising awareness of the seven additional conditions that can now be treated by high street pharmacies, without needing to see a GP.

According to the Prime Minister:

“This bold new approach will free up to 10 million GP appointments per year, helping to cut waiting lists and deliver our long-term plan for the NHS.”

From today (Monday 19 February), adverts will run across on demand TV services, radio, bus stops and billboards as well as social media, encouraging people to use their high street pharmacy for a wider range of common illnesses.

Launched at the end of January, patients can now get treatment and medicines from their local pharmacy for seven common conditions, covering sinusitis, sore throat, earache, infected insect bite, impetigo, shingles, and uncomplicated urinary tract infections.




The NHS in England has worked with pharmacies to promote the new support available for patients as part of its Help Us, Help You campaign, to raise awareness of the services, now available across the country.

The nationwide first, is part of the NHS and government primary care access recovery plan, which aims to help patients get quicker access to the care they need and will free up to 10 million GP appointments a year.


A recent Ipsos Mori study showed that the public identify pharmacies as the organisation they would be most likely to go to if they needed information or advice about a minor health condition (58%), but one in five (20%) say they do not normally contact or visit a community pharmacy.

As part of the campaign, a few pharmacy signs across the country have been temporarily rebranded to ensure patients are aware of the services on offer at their local pharmacy and include symptoms for conditions including earache and insect bites.

Dr Claire Fuller, NHS England medical director for primary care, said:

“The changes that the NHS has made to community pharmacy services mean that people now have a new easy and convenient way of managing and treating many common illnesses.

“Pharmacists have always provided continuity and long-term support to patients, families, and carers – so, this is a safe and common-sense way of making the NHS easier for patients to use, and the change has been very well received by patients already, with thousands accessing treatments from their local pharmacist.

“This important campaign will help people understand the new level of support that pharmacies can offer, with skilled and highly-qualified health professionals delivering even more excellent support in local communities.”

The Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, said:

“Under our new Pharmacy First approach, it will become quicker, easier, and more convenient for people to access NHS care for seven common conditions locally.

“Importantly, it will also save people time and hassle to get the straightforward medication they need quickly, because they’ll be no need to call ahead and no need to make an appointment.

“This bold new approach will free up to 10 million GP appointments per year, helping to cut waiting lists and deliver our long-term plan for the NHS”.

Primary Care Minister, Andrea Leadsom said:

“Simpler, faster, fairer – that is how we are going to deliver the best care to all of our patients. The recent launch of Pharmacy First means that you can now be treated for seven conditions without the need to see a GP. Combined with the expanded Blood Pressure Check and Oral Contraception services, we can free up 10 million GP appointments per year.

“This campaign will help ensure people know they can access care for these conditions at their pharmacy, and with four in five people living just a twenty-minute walk from their local pharmacy, this will be a convenient option for many.

“I’m grateful to all our hard-working pharmacists for helping to drive this service forward, which will help reduce pressures on GPs and cut waiting lists as part of the government’s long term plan for our NHS.”

David Webb, Chief Pharmaceutical Officer for England, said:

“Pharmacy teams play a very important role in the community as part of the integrated NHS primary care team, and this expansion of clinical services means patients will have more choice in accessing the healthcare they need.

“And this campaign will ensure more people are aware of the convenient options for clinical advice and treatment at the heart of their local communities, without needing to book an appointment.”

Popular YouTuber, Abraham the Pharmacist said:

“I would always encourage the public to make use of their local pharmacy, especially if seeking advice for any of these seven conditions. Going to your community pharmacy offers an easy and convenient way to get help – you don’t need an appointment, and you will be seen in a private consultation room.”

“All pharmacists train for five years at university and have the right clinical training to make sure you get the advice you need. If further support is needed, they can then signpost you to your general practice team, A&E or other relevant local service.”

Don’t wait for minor health concerns to get worse – think pharmacy first and get seen by your local pharmacy team. For more information, visit nhs.uk/thinkpharmacyfirst

Source: NHS / Public Health England

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