A GP has applauded pharmacists who “stepped up to the mark” during the first all-out junior doctors’ strikes and said they need to form part of the NHS “cavalry”.
Dr Dean Eggitt, GP and Doncaster Local Medical Committee medical secretary, said he experienced an unusually quiet period during the strikes, which he believes may be a result of patient support for the protest or a fear to interact with the NHS.
He supported the strikes and slammed the government’s “ridiculous” timing for their proposals for a seven-day NHS service.
“I think a seven-day service currently is dangerous and needs to be put on the backburner until we’ve sorted out our workforce problems.
“That’s where I believe pharmacists come in,” he said.
Dr Eggitt, who is also a BMA GPC representative for his area, is a “passionate” supporter of pharmacists working in GP surgeries and currently has a pharmacist training as an independent prescriber on his premises.
“There is a huge demand for healthcare in the UK and we just don’t have the workforce anymore who has the capacity to deliver the needs of patients.
“There aren’t enough doctors and there aren’t going to be enough doctors for the next 10 years,” he said.
He dismissed the idea that there will be a large enough influx of GPs to manage the workload in the short-term as a “fallacy”.
“We don’t have GPs coming in the cavalry, the same is said of nurses – we don’t have a deluge of nurses to put into the workforce so we have to look to alternative providers of care,” he said.
He said the NHS must now turn to pharmacists, with their “unique insight” into medicines.
“One of the things I have noticed over the days of the strike is how fantastically well pharmacies and pharmacists have stepped up to the mark to help out.
“A lot of the capacity has been signposted to pharmacies and pharmacists have been the first port of call for many patients accessing NHS specifically during these strike days.
“So a great big thank you to all of those colleagues,” he said.