Patients who call 111 for urgent repeat prescriptions to bypass GP

Patients who call NHS 111 for urgent repeat prescriptions will be referred directly to community pharmacy services, bypassing GP out-of-hours services under plans unveiled by the DH.

Health minister David Mowat said the Pharmacy Urgent Care pilot scheme would be rolled out from December 2016 and 'developed and evaluated' until April 2018.

The scheme - a version of which has been trialled in north-east England since 2014 - aims to 'cut down the 200,000 calls per year to NHS 111 for urgent repeat prescription medication, reduce waiting times in general practice and free up GPs who are estimated to spend nearly 40% of their time advising patients on minor ailments', a DH statement said.

Mr Mowat also set out plans to refer patients with urgent minor ailments to community pharmacy services. Patients with urgent minor ailments such as earaches, sore throats and bites will be referred by NHS 111 services to community pharmacy teams.

GP prescriptions

The DH hopes the scheme will also ease workload in A&E, where many patients who require urgent repeat medication seek help.

Mr Mowat said: 'Community pharmacists already contribute a huge amount to the NHS, but we are modernising the sector to give patients the best possible quality and care.

'This new scheme will make more use of pharmacists' expertise, as well as freeing up vital time for GPs and reducing visits to A&E for urgent repeat medicines.

'This scheme is part of our drive to meet increasing demand for services - transforming how pharmacists and their teams operate in the community, and bringing clear benefits to patients and the public whilst making the best use of taxpayers' money.'

Speaking at the RCGP annual conference in Harrogate last week, Mr Mowat said that controversial sustainability and transformation plans (STPs) could be blocked if GPs oppose them.

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