Since the programme went live ahead of winter, more than 20,000 people across the region have now benefited from the NHS Community Pharmacy Consultation Service, allowing GPs and hospital staff to focus on those who need their help the most.
Available through the free NHS 111 phone or online service, the new service gives patients the option of being instantly booked into a face-to-face consultation with a pharmacist for a range of minor illnesses, or to get an urgent supply of a previously prescribed medicine.
Those who would benefit can choose one of 620 participating pharmacies in Greater Manchester (89% of pharmacies in the region) after an initial assessment by a call advisor.
Local pharmacies have now joined GP practices, out of hours GP and dental services, and urgent treatment centres among the range of alternatives to hospital A&E departments that people can be booked into if they need urgent care.
Luvjit Kandula, experienced pharmacist, Director of Service Transformation at the Greater Manchester Local Pharmaceutical Committee and member of the Greater Manchester Community Pharmacy Provider Board, said:
“Over 20,000 consultations have been undertaken in Greater Manchester as part of the pharmacy consultation service. During the COVID-19 outbreak, the service has helped pharmacies to continue to take pressure off GP practices and A&E departments at a critical time.”
“As community pharmacies offer more and more services to patients, this allows GPs to have more time and capacity to support patients with long term conditions and those who require support during the pandemic.”
Sarah Price, interim chief officer, Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Partnership, said:
“Our community pharmacists are playing an important role during the coronavirus outbreak, working alongside GPs and other clinicians on the frontline. The pharmacy consultation service is an important part of this as it provides a fast, safe and convenient way for people to get to get medicines urgently or for help with minor illnesses.”
“I hope we can build on the success of this scheme, with pharmacists becoming increasingly involved in patient care, as we begin to move into the next phase of our response to the virus.”