The NHS advises to go to a pharmacy instead of a hospital

The UK National Health Service encourages patients with non-serious illnesses to contact the pharmacists as a "first contact physician". Thus, the leadership of the NHS is struggling with the burden that has fallen on hospitals.

The Department of Health of England (Public Health England, PHE) reported that a year, 20 million patients with minor symptoms, such as a common cold or runny nose, go to see a general practitioner and A&E. Such patients cost the health service annually £850 million pounds.

Instead of waiting in the hospital corridor, which may last several hours due to a large influx of patients, patients could receive timely advice from a pharmacist in a pharmacy near the house.

Recent surveys showed that only 6% of parents with children under the age of 5 consider it appropriate to seek help from a pharmacist in the case of a minor illness. At the same time, more than a third, consider it necessary to come to a therapist with a runny nose or headache, while 5% would choose an emergency department as the first contact with a doctor for a cold.

The results of this survey contradict the statement of three of four parents that they recognize the high level of qualification of pharmacists.

PHE stressed that 95% of English people live within walking distance of the nearest pharmacy. PHE encourages patients with non-serious diseases to seek help from a pharmacist who, if necessary, will refer the patient to a doctor. However, practice shows that in most cases, the symptoms of the disease could be eliminated without visiting the hospital.

In the NHS, a six-week experiment with the support of Stay Well Pharmacy pharmacies was launched, in which NHS 111 emergency medical care operators were authorized to redirect patients with non-serious illnesses to the nearest pharmacies. According to PHE, more than 1,200 patients who contacted NHS 111 during the experiment were referred to pharmacists instead of therapists or A&E.

The organizer of the experiment, Annie O'Leary, said: "Pharmacists are qualified to assess a patient's condition. In the case of a minor illness, they have the right to prescribe medication. If the disease goes beyond the competence of pharmacists, they send the patient to the hospital for reception to the doctor".

Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, chairman of the Royal College of GPs, encourages patients to use the services of pharmacists to help NHS hospitals cope with the crisis and a large influx of patients.

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