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GP receptionists will offer patients appointments at chemists, in bid to take pressure off family doctors

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GPs’ receptionists will divert patients to see pharmacists in a bid to relieve pressure on family doctors. The NHS plan aims to prevent 20 million GP appointments, with many of those telephoning for help instead offered a "same day” slot at a local chemist. Health officials said the moves would mean more accessible and convenient access to services. But patients’ groups said the measures were “worrying”, with fears that critical decisions could end up being taken by those with little training in how to assess patients. 

From October, those calling 111 will be offered appointments at their local pharmacists if call handlers believe they are suffering from a minor ailment. Meanwhile, the NHS will pilot the same system for patients trying to make a GP appointment - with hopes to introduce the system nationally within nine months. 

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the moves were similar to “the French model” where pharmacists have a stronger role providing healthcare. Officials said the plans may be extended still further, to divert patients attempting to seek help from Accident & Emergency departments. 

The changes are part of a five-year contract with pharmacists. 

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Source: The Telegraph, 22 July 2019

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