The potential for pharmacy to improve the NHS’ “chronic access problem” is the subject of a new NPA report

Proposals for improving access to NHS care have been published in a new report by the National Pharmacy Association (NPA), which it hopes will encourage greater utilisation of community pharmacy and its services.

The See You Sooner report follows an NPA survey which reveals that 80 per cent of people believe that access to NHS care has eroded over the last 10 years, and especially so in the past 12 months. Nine in 10 people believe that more NHS services should be available in local pharmacies for convenience and to ease pressure across the NHS.

Some 89 per cent of people said there should be fewer limitations on the range of treatments pharmacies are permitted to supply without prescription and 91 per cent said services in pharmacies should be expanded to help people with long-term medical conditions manage their medicines.

Part of the solution

NPA chairman, Nitin Sodha, referred to the NHS’ “chronic access problem” and commented that community pharmacy “must surely be part of the solution”.

Mr Sodha added: “Pharmacies have the potential to do so much more to improve access to care, if the Government invests in pharmacy services and allows pharmacists to put their clinical skills to full use. Our survey shows that people clearly understand local pharmacies are a solution to the NHS access crisis.”

The See You Sooner report calls for:

  • Investment in community pharmacy-based NHS services
  • More opportunities for pharmacists to initiate, stop or modify patients’ medicines so that people don’t have to wait for a GP appointment for routine pharmaceutical care
  • Community pharmacists to have read and write access to patient records
  • The NHS Constitution to include guarantees of timely face-to-face access to primary care as well as emergency care or interventions that follow referral to hospital specialists.

The report comes shortly after the Government missed a deadline for ensuring coverage of minor ailments schemes in English pharmacies, similar to those already in place in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

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