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Churches urged to provide space for pharmacies as chemists gain more powers

by Donna Birrell

Churches are being urged to help alleviate the pressure on the NHS by opening their church halls to pharmacy services.

Professor Francis Davis who is an NHS non-executive director says new rules enabling pharmacists to prescribe medication for some conditions is an opportunity for churches to help provide an additional service in their communities.

From today, pharmacists are able to prescribe drugs for earache, shingles, sinusitis, sore throats, impetigo, insect bites and uncomplicated urinary infections in women.  

The Pharmacy First scheme allows pharmacists in England to issue prescriptions without appointments or referrals, freeing up around 10 million GP appointments a year.

Professor Davis told Premier :

“Pharmacists are highly qualified and would be able to pick up some of this slack for the system.

“If you live in an area where social needs are high, you can find some people only getting one minute for their GP consultation. So a pharmacist who can take 10 minutes to actually assess what's going on and have a conversation, the person is likely to be in a better position. What’s more, if there's any doubt, they can then triage you straight to your GP or off to the hospital.

“There are 10,000 pharmacists and there are 27,000 full time equivalent doctors. We’re not training medics fast enough and there aren't enough places in medical schools. So for the time being, this is the best we're going to get.

“Some churches now have pharmacies in the church because they have a partnership with a local pharmacy chain or with one of the national chains. This is another way to increase footfall to your church and to be of service in the community. You may also have some medics in your congregation –maybe they could volunteer for those that can't get to the pharmacy, or the GP practice.

“So there are lots of practical things that you can do. If nothing else, give someone a lift to the new pharmacy service.”

The scheme is already running in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

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