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Formerly St Helens and Knowsley Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust

Almost every NHS Pharmacy in the North West begins treating people for common conditions

Patients in the North West will be able to get treatment for seven common conditions at their high street pharmacy from today without needing to see a GP, as part of a major transformation in the way the NHS delivers care.

Over 1500, 95.5% of all pharmacies in the region, will be offering the ground-breaking initiative, with the health service making it easier and more convenient for people to 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) and if appropriate the pharmacist will be able to provide medication without the need for a GP appointment or prescription.

The major expansion of pharmacy services will give the public more choice in where and how they access care, aiming to free up 10 million GP appointments a year.

Karen O’Brien, Chief Pharmacist, NHS England – North West said: “Community pharmacy colleagues already play a vital role in keeping communities healthy and well, and now they can do even more.  Each pharmacy has a private consultation room, highly trained pharmacists and support staff, who can see and treat patients and if appropriate offer medication.

“The service starts today, it will take time for pharmacies and the public to get used to the new way of working so I ask that we be patient and support our teams as much as possible.”

The scheme is part of the NHS and government’s primary care access recovery plan, which committed to making accessing healthcare easier for millions of people.

It builds on the successful expansion of the contraceptive pill service in December 2023, with almost 550 pharmacies in the North West now offering women the chance to get a supply of oral contraception from their pharmacy without needing to first see their GP.

In the future, the NHS expects almost half a million women a year to receive their contraception from their high street pharmacist.

Dr Paula Cowan, GP and Primary Care Medical Director, NHS England – North West said: “As a GP, I highly value the contribution of community pharmacy colleagues.  This NHS service will help improve access for patients and free up more time in general practice for us to see the people who are more seriously unwell.”

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