Medication | Soon you won’t need to see a GP for drugs to treat 7 common conditions – full list revealed
THOUSANDS of women in England will be able to get their contraceptive pill at their local pharmacy without having to see their GP first.
From next month, they’ll be able to get a first prescription of the pill from their pharmacist, under plans to make it quicker and easier for people to access healthcare on the high street.
NHS England said the service would benefit “almost half a million women”.
But it’s not the only change to pharmacy services that’s set to come into effect in the few weeks and months.
From blood pressure checks to antibiotics for common conditions that would usually be dished out by GPs, here are all the services you’ll be able to access at your pharmacy in December and in the New Year.
Pharmacy contraception service
Instead, your local pharmacy can renew your repeat prescription when your pill runs out.
But an update to the the NHS Pharmacy Contraception Service that’s due to come into force on December 1 means that you’ll also be able to get a first prescription of the pill from your pharmacist, without having to see a doctor about it.
At the moment, pharmacists are able to dispense your contraceptive pills after they’ve been prescribed by a GP, and can offer advice on different types of contraception.
To get your contraception prescription from your chemist from next month, you’ll need to have a check-up with the pharmacist to record your blood pressure and weight.
It’s worth noting that pharmacies need to opt in to this service, so not all of them will be rolling it out come next month.
The NHS website will be updated so you can see what locations are offering the service as more pharmacies join the scheme.
But you can still go to your GP to start taking the pill if that’s what you prefer.
Blood pressure checks
Community pharmacies already offer free blood pressure testing people over the age of 40 who live in England and don’t already have a diagnosis of high blood pressure.
High blood pressure is often described as a silent killer as it doesn’t cause any obvious symptoms but it can render you more at risk of suffering deadly health consequences, like heart disease and heart attacks as well as vascular dementia.
Their aim is to deliver 2.5 million a year by Spring 2025, according to NHSE.
It estimated this massive effort could prevent more than 1,350 heart attacks and strokes in the first year of the scheme alone.
Treatment for seven common conditions
Patients will also be able to access treatment for seven common conditions at their pharmacy in the New Year, in what’s known as the Pharmacy First Scheme.
It aims to make pharmacies the first port of call, without the need for a GP appointment or prescription.
Subject to proper IT systems being in place for pharmacies, the Pharmacy First Scheme will be launched on January 31 2024.
Pharmacist will be able to give advice on seven minor illnesses and offer prescription-only treatment where appropriate.
This could see pharmacists dishing out antibiotics without needing the OK from a GP for the first time.
The common conditions currently include:
- sore throat
- infected insect bite
- uncomplicated urinary tract infections in women
You’ll be able to walk in to a pharmacy to get a consultation, or you might be referred by NHS 111 or a GP.
If the pharmacy teams can’t help with you ailment, they’ll signpost you to A&E or a GP.
Dr Leyla Hannbeck CEO of the Association of Independent Multiple Pharmacies said: “This is a step in the right direction for patient care. The pharmacy network has the knowledge, skillets and the willingness to deliver these services and support the NHS.
“For years we have been highlighting that, if supported appropriately, pharmacies can add a lot of value to the NHS. We are accessible and we have a track record of delivering for patients.”
Janet Morrison, Chief Executive at Community Pharmacy England, added that pharmacy teams would be “working hard to build these new services into their daily workload”.
“We hope that members of the public will want to take full advantage of the offer from community pharmacies in due course,” she said.
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