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  • Writer's pictureHealthwatch Reading

No GP appointment needed: Patients can now be treated by pharmacies for seven common conditions

Updated: Feb 13

From January 31 patients will be able to get treatment for seven common conditions at high street pharmacies across the UK without needing to see a GP, as part of a major transformation in the way the NHS delivers care and services.


Highly trained pharmacists will be able to assess and treat patients for:

  • sinusitis

  • sore throat

  • earache

  • infected insect bite

  • impetigo

  • shingles

  • uncomplicated urinary tract infections in women (under the age of 65) without the need for a GP appointment or prescription.


It builds on the successful expansion of the contraceptive pill service in December 2023, with more than 5,000 pharmacies now registered to offer women the chance to get a supply of oral contraception over the counter from their pharmacy without needing first to see their GP.


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


What does this mean for Reading locals?

Over 400 pharmacists will have been trained for the Pharmacy First service by the middle of March across the Southern Counties which includes Berkshire ( and Reading).


Every pharmacy locally has opted into the Pharmacy First service.

All practices have up-to-date information on which pharmacies are providing the Pharmacy First service and will make referrals to the appropriate pharmacy based on patient choice and the appropriate pharmacy.

Should a patient walk into the pharmacy, and that pharmacy is unable to provide the Pharmacy First service, the patient will be signposted to another pharmacy, as training continues.


Amanda Pritchard, NHS chief executive, said: “GPs are already treating millions more people every month than before the pandemic, but with an ageing population and growing demand, we know the NHS needs to give people more choice and make accessing care as easy as possible.


“People across England rightly value the support they receive from their high street pharmacist, and with eight in ten living within a 20-minute walk of a pharmacy and twice as many pharmacies in areas of deprivation, they are the perfect spot to offer people convenient care for common conditions.


“This is great news for patients – from today you can pop into one of more than 10,000 high street pharmacies in England to get a consultation on seven common conditions including ear-ache, a sore throat or sinusitis at a convenient time, with many pharmacies open late into the evening.


Community pharmacies already play a vital role in keeping their local communities healthy and well. And pharmacists are now ramping up the number of life-saving blood pressure checks given to at-risk patients over the next year with a commitment to deliver 2.5 million a year by Spring 2025 – up from 900,000 carried out in 2022. It is estimated this could prevent more than 1,350 heart attacks and strokes in the first year.

The Government has made £645 million of new funding available to support the continued expansion of community pharmacy services.

one to the development of other NHS clinical services in the future, as patients become familiar with going to their local pharmacy for primary care.”


Louise Ansari, Chief Executive, Healthwatch England, said: “As with access to the contraceptive pill announced last month, patients will welcome the extension of pharmacy services to include common conditions. It will offer them greater flexibility and provide a safe alternative to seeing a GP, which we know remains a real challenge for many people across England.


“It will, however, take time for pharmacists to get trained and ready for change. Patients and GP services need up to date information on which of their local pharmacies are offering direct supply of medicines for one, some, or all seven of the new conditions. Investment in a national campaign to raise awareness of the new services and build trust in pharmacists will also be essential and, crucially, this will need to reach all communities to be effective.”

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