More than 100,000 patients were seen by community pharmacy in just one month, according to NHS figures, which the Government has said is helping ease pressure on GPs.

The data revealed that in June, 118,123 people with minor illnesses such as a sore throat or constipation, or those in need of medicine urgently, received a same-day consultation with their local pharmacist after calling NHS 111 or their GP practice.

This is an increase of 83% on the number in the same month last year (64,512), with the Government pointing to the data evidence for the ‘vital role’ community pharmacies play.

Minister for health Will Quince said: ‘Community pharmacy is an important part of Our Plan for Patients this winter and next, helping to ease pressures on GPs and free up time for appointments.

‘New services include taking referrals directly from NHS 111 online alongside a pilot to register or change your GP practice online, making access simpler and more convenient for patients.’

When announcing her ‘Plan for Patients’ on 22 September, health secretary Thérèse Coffey revealed ambitions to expand the range of services available from community pharmacies, and for pharmacies to be able to manage and supply more medicines without a prescription from a GP.

NHS England board papers from yesterday also revealed that the body is looking at widening CPCS to other providers, introducing new pilots to support with early cancer diagnosis, and building on the New Medications Service and contraception pilots outlined in the Government’s Plan for Patients.

In addition, from this week, NHS 111 online can directly refer people to community pharmacy for a same day consultation, rather than patients needing to call the phone line.

Community pharmacies are also offering blood pressure checks to people over 40 who have previously not been diagnosed with hypertension.

More than 7,882 community pharmacies have signed up to provide a blood pressure check service and over 346,290 checks have been carried out by community pharmacies since the service began in October 2021, according to the board papers.

NHS England was also ‘exploring the feasibility’ of running a high-profile communications campaign on the ‘key changes’ introduced in primary care during the primary care, including those within community pharmacy, the document stated.

Commenting on the data, Amanda Pritchard, NHS chief executive, said: ‘It is likely that we will face a busy and challenging winter and while we have already announced plans to boost capacity across our services, I am delighted that hardworking pharmacy teams are playing an even greater role.’