NHSE: Pharmacies in the East of England provide wider range of treatments to the public

Date: 01/02/2024

People in the East of England can now be treated for a range of common conditions at their high street pharmacy without the need to see a GP first, as part of a major transformation in the way the NHS delivers primary care.

More than 1,000 community pharmacies across the region are part of this ground-breaking initiative, making it easier and more convenient for people to access care when they need it.

NHS England estimates up to one million appointments with GPs in the East of England can instead be done by pharmacists treating these common conditions, allowing GPs to treat more serious illnesses.

Bill Rial, regional chief pharmacist for the NHS in the East of England said: “This major expansion of pharmacy services makes it more convenient for people to get help when they need it for a wider range of conditions, giving them more choice in where and how they access care.

“Highly trained pharmacists will be able to assess and treat patients for sinusitis, sore throat, earache, infected insect bite, impetigo, shingles, and uncomplicated urinary tract infections in women (under the age of 65) without the need for an appointment or prescription.

“When people feel unwell, we want them to think pharmacy first.  Many pharmacies can now treat a wide range of conditions, and if necessary advise people on where to go to get treatment if they can’t help.”

Claire Langan, superintendent pharmacist manager at the Abbey Field pharmacy in Colchester, said: “Many pharmacies have dedicated consultation rooms in their premises, so they can provide personal advice to patients on many conditions, in addition to advising on medications and prescriptions.

“I hope many more people will visit their local pharmacy to seek treatment, as pharmacies are very local and very accessible with no need to book an appointment.”

The national ‘Think pharmacy first’ initiative is part of the NHS and government’s plans to provide a wider range of choices in primary care for people to access the right care for their needs. Over 10,000 pharmacies across England are taking part in this initiative, saving 10 million GP appointments a year.

NHS England will be running a national campaign throughout February to encourage people to think pharmacy first when they have these particular ailments.