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Think pharmacist first for minor illnesses
13 February 2018

An estimated 2,500 GP appointments a week – or 500 a day - in the Portsmouth area are taken up by patients with self-treatable conditions including as colds and tummy aches.

At the start of a new national ‘Stay Well Pharmacy’ campaign, research shows that 27% of general practice appointments are avoidable, including 6% of cases in which the patient could have gone to their local pharmacy for advice and support.

There are 120 pharmacies in the area covered by NHS Portsmouth, Fareham and Gosport and South Eastern Hampshire Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs), which offer clinical advice for a wide range of minor health concerns.

Dr Elizabeth Fellows, the urgent care lead for the three clinical commissioning groups in the Portsmouth area, said: “No appointment is needed at these pharmacies which can help with many aspects of health care.

“Most people live within easy reach of a pharmacy – there are 42 in Portsmouth alone - and many pharmacists offer extended opening hours in the evenings and at weekends.”

Dr Alastair Bateman, the Waterlooville GP who leads on prescribing issues for South Eastern Hampshire and Fareham and Gosport clinical commissioning groups, said: “We want to help the public get the most effective use of pharmacists and pharmacy technicians- these are skilled clinicians who are available every day of the week.

“Using a pharmacy as the first point of call for clinical advice for minor health concerns will help to free up GP time for more urgent appointments and help to reduce non-emergency A&E visits, considerably reducing pressure on the NHS.

“The NHS promotes self-care where possible for minor health concerns. When you think of the pressure on GPs for both urgent and routine appointments, having more people make better use of the great resource provided by our pharmacies could make a huge difference to patients and GPs alike.” 

Your pharmacist can advise on the following: 

  • the treatment of minor health concerns such as coughs, colds, tummy troubles, teething and aches and pains
  • clinical advice and support for patients with long-term conditions
  • explaining how to take new medicines
  • reviewing medicines use to ensure safety
  • providing healthy living services, e.g. advice on quitting smoking, losing weight, reducing alcohol consumption, sexual health or increasing physical activity
  • flu vaccinations. 

Nationally, around 18 million GP appointments and 2.1 million visits to A&E are for self-treatable conditions - at a cost of more than £850m a year to the NHS. This is the equivalent of more than 220,000 hip replacements or 880,000 cataract operations.

The NHS 'Stay Well Pharmacy' campaign was launched yesterday (February 12) is being supported by a TV advert, and digital and social media advertising.

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