The findings will raise concerns about the government plan to direct patients with minor ailments and long-term conditions to pharmacists rather than GPs.
Mystery shoppers tested 101 UK pharmacies using three scenarios: a patient complaining of two weeks of diarrhoea, a request for the migraine treatment Imigran Recovery, and a request for emergency contraception.
In a third of visits, the advice or sale of drugs was ‘unsatisfactory' -contraception was discussed within earshot of other customers and patients were not advised to see a GP when they should have been.
The study found that pharmacy assistants often did not ask the right questions or consult the pharmacist before handing over powerful drugs.
The pharmacy White Paper, Building on Strengths - Delivering the Future, predicts pharmacists treating minor ailments, managing long-term conditions and providing health checks would save up to 57 million GP consultations a year.
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