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According to the UK government, the new rules allowing pharmacists to write patients’ prescriptions will benefit millions of people and bring an end to the “8 am scramble” for GP appointments.
Pharmacies will be allowed to prescribe medication for seven common ailments, including earaches, sore throats, and urinary tract infections.
The aim is to have the new regulations in force by next winter.
The cost of medicines and inflation has forced many pharmacies to close, according to a study last year by University College London and the London School of Economics.
Amanda Pritchard, Chief Executive of National Health Service England says: “High-street pharmacies like this one will be able to prescribe medicines on the spot for seven common conditions, everything from sore throat, shingles, uncomplicated urinary tract infections. We’re going to massively increase the number of blood pressure checks that you can get on the high street, two and a half million a year, significantly reducing people’s risk of heart attack or stroke.”
A common complaint has been a lack of access to GP appointments, NHS England claims that in trials the new system increased patients’ access to doctors by a third.
“Hopefully this investment will be an investment in the sector, which means that we are able to do more. Ultimately, we are seeing these patients already, but we are hindered by what we can do for them. So ultimately this will allow treatment to be provided to help prevent common conditions from getting worse and hopefully, people then, won’t require more complex treatment later on,” she says.
GPs are keen to reassure patients that more serious conditions will not go unnoticed and untreated.
London GP, Dr. Anil Mehta says: “It’s not only about access. It should be about the continuity of care. So as GP practices, we know our populations, we know our patients, we know when they come in and they are more needy than other times. So, I think if we just look along access and just providing them with more and more appointments as opposed to providing them with continuous care, we might end up in a bit of trouble.”
NHS England says training is also being given to reception staff so that people who need to see doctors are prioritized, while others are passed on to specialists such as physiotherapists and mental health staff.
This article was provided by The Associated Press.