Health Secretary Sajid Javid last night told National Pharmacy Association members that he supports a “pharmacy first” model of care for minor illnesses, to help address the backlog of NHS care arising from the Covid-19 pandemic.
Speaking at the NPA’s centenary dinner in central London, he said he wanted to “go further” than existing services like the NHS Community Pharmacist Consultation Service, to make it “quicker and easier” for people to access primary care.
Mr Javid said: “I want to see how much further we can go. That’s one of the reasons why we’re working up plans for a pharmacy first model in England that will direct more patients directly to pharmacies without having to go to see their GPs. This will help us to beat the backlog and make sure that even more people can benefit from [pharmacists’] brilliant advice and care.”
In a passage about preventing ill health, he said: “I want community pharmacies to be at the very heart of primary care - not just treating people but preventing people from becoming patients in the first place.”
He added: “We’re transforming every aspect of health and care in this country, riding the greatest wave on innovation in the history of healthcare and embracing the spirit of integration that has seen us overcome traditional boundaries.”
He also led a round of applause for the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) for their work on approving Covid-19 vaccinations.
Over 100 guests joined the Secretary of State, including representatives from patients groups, doctors’ leaders and senior NHS officials.
NPA chair, Andrew Lane, said: “Having stepped up to save many lives during the pandemic, pharmacies can now become the backlog busting centrepiece of the NHS’s recovery from Covid-19. We can dramatically improve access to healthcare, and free up well over 20 million GP and hospital appointments. However, funding cuts for pharmacies in England need to be reversed if we are to power our can-do agenda for improving patient care and tackling the NHS backlog.”
See below a selection of images from the event.