Pharmacists should be able to directly access GPs’ online booking system to refer certain patients to their doctor, the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) has said.

In an exclusive interview with The Pharmacist, the RPS’s English board Sandra Gidley chair said: ‘‘The pharmacist could refer the patient into the system, if necessary, because GP’s time is taken up with far too much stuff that actually doesn’t need to be dealt with by a GP.

'When I’ve worked closely with doctors and told them “somebody needs to see you”, they would slot them in anyway, but that’s informal and more difficult now because of the pressures on GPs at the moment.

‘These things are possible because you can already book your hospital appointments. They [pharmacists] would be very careful about who they refer. I’m talking about a situation where something comes in, the patient has tried everything and you haven’t got anything in your armoury you can help them with.'


First point of call


Ms Gidley also said that she would like to see ‘some sort of scheme where people have to go to a pharmacy first’.

In Wales, the Government implemented a choose pharmacy common ailments service to encourage patients with a minor condition to use pharmacies as a first point of call. Similarly in Scotland, a pharmacy first service was rolled out to allow patients to access free advice and treatment for impetigo and uncomplicated urinary tract infection (UTI).

Ms Gidley added: ‘I would like England to take a closer look at what’s going on in Wales and Scotland with regard to their pharmacy first schemes because minor ailment schemes are being decommissioned here.

‘Unless some alternative is put in place to go to a GP practice, patients will continue to make [unnecessary] GP appointments. We need to be taking some of that pressure off.’

The full interview can be accessed here.