Home Top Global NewsHealthcare Pharmacies could free up ‘42 million GP appointments’ but NHS funding has been diverted | UK | News

Pharmacies could free up ‘42 million GP appointments’ but NHS funding has been diverted | UK | News

by Ozva Admin

The NHS had faced a huge backlog of patients in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic and the health system has struggled to cope with the pressure. With nurses poised to strike amid an ongoing pay dispute, pressure on general practice is expected to mount as patients struggle to access essential services. Company Chemists Association chief executive Malcolm Harrison reported that community pharmacies could support the NHS by removing up to 42 million appointments from general practice. However, he warned that the system is chronically underfunded and that vital resources have been inappropriately diverted to other areas of the health system.

Speaking to Express.co.uk, Mr Harrison reported: “Community pharmacy could easily remove 42 million general practice appointments and treat them safely, if properly funded.

“NHS England itself recognizes that there is a significant volume of workload currently carried out by GPs that could safely be moved to the community pharmacy. There is no capacity to do that at the moment because we are already stretched.

“The NHS has funded additional roles in general practice, which has then moved the workforce away from where it is needed so that it can take the pressure off general practice.

“They’re looking to shift demand from general practice to pharmacy, but they’re shifting resource from pharmacy to general practice, which doesn’t seem like a good plan to me.”

In September 2022 alone, the NHS carried out 29.2 million general practice appointments, of which around 859,000 were related to Covid vaccines.

Ninety per cent of all appointments made in September were attended by the patient, but only 47.3 per cent of appointments were made by a GP.

21.6 percent of the appointments were made by a nurse and the rest by other practice staff.

The British Medical Association has previously warned that general practice is in “crisis” as staff are “exhausted” under pressure from “unmanageable workloads”.

Read more: Nurses vote to strike in first national wage action

Mr. Harrison predicted that, with increasing pressure on GP services and the potential for nursing shortages in hospitals, patients would be “shifted” to community pharmacies in times of need.

Speaking of strikes within the NHS, he added: “A nursing strike will inevitably force patients to seek the urgent care they need outside hospitals. Like they did during the pandemic, when they find their GP can’t help them, many people will go back to their local pharmacy.”

Yet despite the anticipated influx of patients into pharmacies, the industry has not seen an increase in NHS funding in nearly a decade.

Mr Harrison said: “The last time the NHS increased funding for pharmacies was in 2014. In 2016 they cut £200m from pharmacy funding and we haven’t had a penny increase since then.”

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