Community pharmacy should provide 24-hour coverage, the chief of a local pharmaceutical committee (LPC) has said.
Speaking to The Pharmacist on Monday (3 December), North-East London LPC secretary Hemant Patel said that some pharmacies across the country should be open 24 hours a day to help reduce pressure on accident and emergency (A&E) services.
The Pharmacist contacted NHS England for comment.
Mr Patel continued: ‘Patients fall ill 24 hours a day. A&E [departments] are open 24 hours a day so if we’re going to see a diversion of work away from A&E – so that they can deal with emergencies – then a lot of the urgent care work could easily be done in pharmacies.’
According to NHS England, there is currently only one pharmacy in the country – Zafash Limited Chemists in London – that opens 24 hours a day, every day of the year.
‘Working hand in hand’
Mr Patel said that there have been ‘some discussions about 24-hour GP coverage focussing on the provision of urgent care for patients in primary care rather than in A&E’, which are ‘working very hard to reduce admissions’.
However, doctor’s representative body the British Medical Association (BMA) could not confirm Mr Patel’s claims, as it cannot ‘discuss the details of ongoing negotiations’, a spokesperson told The Pharmacist today (6 December).
Mr Patel added: ‘The only way to reduce A&E admissions is by improving access to primary care, with GPs and pharmacists working hand in hand.
‘There’s no point giving GPs 24-hour-a-day coverage and then having no-one to supply medicines so the whole thing will need to be thought of together.’