Thousands of GP appointments freed up thanks to Pharmacy First

A scheme which helps people make the right choices when it comes to their health – so they can get the right treatment faster from a local pharmacy – has freed up thousands of GP appointments across Bradford City.

More than 15,000 people have used the local Pharmacy First scheme since it started in the City area last year, and almost 95% of them said they would otherwise have gone to their GP – with 169 people saying they would have headed for A&E instead.

Pharmacy First is funded by NHS Bradford City Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) and provides local people with rapid access to a pharmacist who can give advice and support and, where necessary, can also supply certain medicines without the need for a doctor’s appointment.

Max Mclean, lay member for patient and public involvement at Bradford City CCG, said the number of patients using the service showed the value of offering people an alternative to seeing their GP for common ailments.

“This is excellent news for patients in Bradford City as Pharmacy First has freed up thousands of GP appointments and prevented wasted A&E visits. It’s allowed GPs and A&E to dedicate more time to patients with more serious or life-threatening conditions.

“Our GPs and pharmacies have worked hard to promote this simple and cost-effective scheme and the take-up has been fantastic. It has meant that people with minor ailments can go straight to their pharmacy and get the help and advice they need without making a doctor’s appointment.

“It’s worth remembering that pharmacists are qualified healthcare professionals, who have done at least five years training, and can help with many minor health problems. They can advise, treat or refer as necessary, and are easily accessible on your High Street.”

Common ailments covered by the scheme are: athlete’s foot, blocked nose, colds, earache, fever, hay fever, sore throat, teething, threadworms and thrush.

These are all conditions which can often be treated without the need to see a GP, and some pharmacies now have consultation rooms for people who prefer to speak in private.

The service is available at pharmacies throughout Bradford City and, since April, also in Bradford Districts, and is available to anyone who is registered at a local GP practice. Patients exempt from paying prescription charges will, if necessary, be supplied certain medicines free of charge.

And for patients who do pay for their prescriptions – then the cost of medicines included in the scheme could be much less than the current prescription charge.

The scheme is also running in Airedale, Wharfedale and Craven.

People should look out for stickers and posters displayed in the window of participating pharmacies.