People urged to use pharmacies as hundreds of GP appointments in Portsmouth are avoidable

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NEW figures have revealed that 500 GP appointments a day in Portsmouth and surrounding areas are for patients with self-treatable conditions.

The data shows 27 per cent of general practice appointments are avoidable and six per cent of those cases could have been dealt with by a pharmacist.

We want to help the public get the most effective use of pharmacists and pharmacy technicians, these are skilled clinicians who are available every day of the week

Dr Alastair Bateman

People are now being encouraged to visit pharmacists for support and advice for minor illnesses.

The message comes at the start of a new national campaign called Stay Well Pharmacy.

There are 120 pharmacies in the area covered by Portsmouth, Fareham and Gosport and south eastern Hampshire Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs), which offer advice for a wide range of minor health concerns.

Dr Elizabeth Fellows, the urgent care lead for the three CCGs, said: ‘No appointment is needed at these pharmacies which can help with many aspects of health care.

‘Most people live within easy reach of a pharmacy. There are 42 in Portsmouth alone, and many pharmacists offer extended opening hours in the evenings and at weekends.’

Dr Alastair Bateman, a Waterlooville GP who leads on prescribing issues for south eastern Hampshire and Fareham and Gosport CCGs, said using a pharmacy in the first instance will help free up GP time and ensure they can see the patients who need them.

‘We want to help the public get the most effective use of pharmacists and pharmacy technicians, these are skilled clinicians who are available every day of the week,’ he said.

‘Using a pharmacy as the first point of call for clinical advice for minor health concerns will help to free up GP time for more urgent appointments and help to reduce non-emergency A&E visits, considerably reducing pressure.

‘The NHS promotes self-care where possible for minor health concerns.

‘When you think of the pressure on GPs for both urgent and routine appointments, having more people make better use of the great resource provided by our pharmacies could make a huge difference to patients and GPs alike.’

Pharmacists can advise on the following:

n treatment of minor health concerns such as coughs, colds, tummy troubles, teething and aches and pains.

n clinical advice and support for patients with long-term conditions.

n explaining how to take new medicines

n reviewing medicines use to ensure safety.