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Chemists to the recue

Given the problems the NHS has with its Junior Doctors and Consultants going out on strike can it be long before the poor pharmacists are doing some backroom operations in your local branch of Boots?

“New knee, sir? Yes of course. Just join the queue. But we close at 5pm.”

The Government says today it will relieve queues at GP’s surgeries by allowing pharmacies to ‘treat’ the public for seven common conditions. Should we be relieved?! Raising flags in celebration? What can we expect. Well, actually, a shift., but one rather like re-arranging the deckchairs on the Titanic. Read on ….

There surely will be now bigger queues now at yours and mine chemists while I don’t suspect queues to see your local doctor will be much alleviated.

I hear regularly from staff at my local chemist that they are already rushed off their feet and sometimes face abuse. And didn’t I also read reports that more and more chemist shops are closing.

Checking back I found this.

The number of pharmacies in England has fallen by 160 over the last two years, BBC analysis showed and that was last year’s figures.

There are now apparently just 11,026 community chemists, according to data from NHS Business Services Authority – the lowest number since 2015.

Rising operational costs, staff shortages and reduced government financial support have been blamed.

This is despite rising patient demand. Now the government puts more pressure on pharmacists to provide more services to ease pressure on GPs.

Doctors surgeries are now stretched to breaking point to deal with demand. In Buxton my own surgery went into special measures after investigation revealed its service was ‘inadequate.’ It is ringing the changes and in its latest audit it managed ‘Good.’ Warning signs in most if not all doctors surgeries state that abuse of surgery staff will not be tolerated.

Staff at chemists, already facing that kind of abuse, can probably expect more of the same. It isn’t always that those dealing with doctors surgeries or chemists are belligerent bullies, some people are at their wits end to get help. This is the way we are going. Some staff working in doctors surgeries and at chemists are at their wits ends because staffing levels cannot meet the level of demand.

The Government describes the latest move as a ground-breaking initiative, with the health service making it easier and more convenient for people to access care. Actually chemists in the US already prescribe more than we do.

Pharmacists will be able to assess and treat patients for sinusitis, sore throat, earache, infected insect bite, impetigo, shingles, and uncomplicated urinary tract infections in women (under the age of 65) without the need for a GP appointment or prescription.

Given the problems the NHS has with its Junior Doctors and Consultants going out on strike it can’t be long before pharmacists are doing some backroom operations in your local branch of Boots.