People told to 'skip' GP for seven illnesses under new NHS rules

Seven illnesses pharmacists can now treat with new prescription powers - meaning no need for a GP appointment - have been revealed. Under new pharmacist powers in England, NHS patients can skip the GP and head straight to the chemist.

The changes come in for patients with earache, a sore throat, sinusitis, impetigo, shingles, infected insect bites, or urinary tract infections. Dr Leyla Hannbeck CEO of the Association of Independent Multiple Pharmacies said: “The plan recognises the important role that community pharmacy can play in improving patient access to care.

"Any measures to facilitate patient care with a less cumbersome, less time-consuming and easier bureaucratic burden will be welcomed by pharmacy teams the length and breadth of the country. Over 90 per cent of independent community pharmacies’ activities are for the NHS and pharmacies do not pass on their costs on to their patients and customers, consequently, many are operating at a loss. Years of underfunding have left them fighting for their survival.

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"There is a shortfall of £1.1bn in pharmacy funding every year and rising, and many pharmacies are struggling to pay the ever-increasing prices of medicines and the higher general costs of doing business and managing greater workforce challenges."

Labour's Shadow Health Secretary Wes Streeting criticised the announcement as "merely tinkering at the edges" and said it did not deliver the "fundamental reform" the NHS needs. Mr Streeting said: "13 years of Conservative failure has seen hundreds of pharmacies close and 2,000 GPs cut.

"Now millions of patients are waiting a month to see a GP, if they can get an appointment at all. Expecting the Conservatives to fix this is like expecting an arsonist to put out the fire they started. Rishi Sunak is completely out of touch with the problems facing patients and the NHS. He has no plan to address the shortage of GPs, or to reverse the cut in the number of doctors trained every year.

"The Conservatives' announcement is merely tinkering at edges, in contrast to the fundamental reform the NHS needs and Labour is offering."