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Winter pressures

MPs say community pharmacy can help ease winter pressures on healthcare

Source: Stocksolutions/

There were 21.7 million visits to hospital emergency departments in 2013 in Enlgand, one million more compared to three years ago

Better use of community pharmacists could help ease the pressures placed on public healthcare by winter weather, according to a report from a group of MPs.

The report follows a six-month inquiry by the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Primary Care and Public Health and highlights increasing attendances at accident and emergency (A&E) and GP practices during winter.

At the report’s launch on 25 June 2014, Simon Fradd, GP and board member of the self care forum — a group that includes GPs, nurses and pharmacists, set up to further the reach of self care — said that he would like it to be mandatory for a pharmacist to be part of every NHS clinical commissioning group (CCG).  

The report also highlights the value of pharmacy input into CCGs. “Clinical commissioning groups must recognise the capabilities of community pharmacists and involve them in local healthcare planning,” it says.

“Pharmacists are valuable members of the local health team whose skills should be utilised to support local people in their health.”

Another recommendation of the report is that general practices should form federations to improve the provision of healthcare services and to promote collaboration.

At the launch, Kevin Barron, co-chairman of the APPG on Primary Care and Public Health, proposed that pharmacies could become part of the federations to enhance their relationship with general practice.

The report presents evidence that GP surgeries in England are seeing 340 million patients each year, 40 million more than five years ago. Demand for A&E services has also increased, reaching 21.7 million attendances in 2013 a one million increase compared with three years ago.

The report also says that healthcare providers should plan workforce and services in order to cope with sudden spikes in demand.

Educating the public on the difference between urgent and minor health issues could also help deflect patients away from A&E and self care should be supported, says the report. Healthcare professionals should consider alternatives to A&E when triaging patients. 

The report will be sent to a range of NHS organisations and submitted as evidence to the consultation on acute medical emergencies being carried out by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence.


Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal DOI: 10.1211/PJ.2014.20065584

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