UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak launched a package of new measures which expands the role of pharmacies to help cut NHS waiting lists.
During a visit to his hometown of Southampton, where he got his blood pressure checked at a local pharmacy, the Prime Minister referenced his family’s pharmacy business run by his pharmacist mother Usha. He has previously spoken about working part-time at Sunak Pharmacy and delivering medicines to the local community.
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Sunak said: “This plan is personal to me, I grew up in an NHS family and I’m passionate about making sure you get access to the best medical attention, when you need it.
“This bold and innovative package of measures will significantly change how the NHS works for the better not least for GPs and pharmacies, but above all you – whose day-to-day experience of healthcare will be significantly enhanced by this new service.”
Cutting down wait times in the National Health Service (NHS), a problem exacerbated by the pandemic, is among the UK government’s key pledges for the year. According to Sunak, transforming primary care is the next part of this government's promise to cut NHS waiting lists.
He added: “I know how frustrating it is to be stuck on hold to your GP practice when you need an appointment for a common illness.
“We will end the 8am rush by making sure patients are either given an appointment immediately when they call, or signposted to a more appropriate service such as NHS 111 or their local pharmacy. You will no longer be told to call back later.”
As part of the package of measures, patients with minor ailments like earache and sore throat would now be encouraged to go directly to their pharmacist, freeing up GPs for more serious illnesses.
The UK’s Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC) said with advanced digital telephony, rather than an engaged tone, patients will receive a queue position, a call back option and their call can be directly routed to the right professional. The phone system will also be integrated with the clinical systems so practice staff can quickly identify patients and their information from phone numbers.