Patients with minor ailments to be offered same-day pharmacist consultations

Patients with sore throats or earache will be encouraged to attend a same-day appointment with their pharmacist rather than see their GP.

Those calling NHS 111 with minor or common complaints will be offered a same-day consultation as part of plans by Health Secretary Matt Hancock to expand the role of community pharmacists.

Patients with sore throats or earache will be encouraged to attend a same-day appointment with their pharmacist

Patients with sore throats or earache will be encouraged to attend a same-day appointment with their pharmacist

The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) said it hopes the new NHS Community Pharmacist Consultation Service will ensure faster treatment and help reduce pressure on GPs and emergency departments.

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Patients wishing to see a doctor will still be able to book appointments or go to A&E.

Pharmacists will see patients in a consultation room and refer them on to a GP or any local NHS service if necessary.

They can also advise self-treatment and recommend over-the-counter medicine.

Following the appointment, an alert is sent to the patient's GP surgery with any information they think should be included in their medical records.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said: "Pharmacists are integral to community health and I want to move towards the French model, where they offer a wider range of services and play a stronger role in the community.

"Every day more than a million people use our community pharmacies in England and we want to support our incredible pharmacists to unlock their full potential, helping them offer more health advice and support more patients as part of our long term plan for the NHS.

"Community pharmacies are a vital and trusted part of our NHS, and this five-year deal will ensure more people get support in the most appropriate setting, which in turn helps relieve pressure on the wider health service."

The DHSC estimates that up to 6% of all GP consultations could be safely transferred to a community pharmacy - up to 20 million appointments per year.

The new scheme is part of the new five-year Community Pharmacy Contractual Framework which will take effect from October.

The deal commits almost £13 billion to community pharmacy - £2.592 billion per year - to expand the role of community pharmacy.

It includes extra training to spot the signs of health issues including heart disease, and ensures pharmacists have the latest guidance on helping people with dementia and support to spot suicide warning signs.