Simon Fell MP

The government and general practices have to shoulder the responsibility of educating and informing people about how to effectively use healthcare services provided by pharmacies, a Conservative MP said in the Parliament.

Participating in a debate on GP appointment availability in the parliament on Tuesday (October 26), Conservative MP for Barrow and Furness Simon Fell told MPs: “Pharmacies and (NHS) 111 are fantastic resources, but we must make it clear to people why, under what circumstances and how they need to use those routes.”

Acknowledging the gaps in “communications and signposting” about proper usage of pharmacies’ services Fell said: “We are not there yet.

“People are being told that they can go to the pharmacy and, for what it is worth, I think that is an excellent thing to be doing. We should be triaging people.

“However, we need better communication about why people should be going to the pharmacy, what symptoms they should be displaying and what questions they should have to go there instead of calling 111 or going to their GP”.

Emphasizing that the matter needs urgent attention and tackling, Fell said: “I fear that we are building up a problem for the future and that the recruitment issue is going to come back and bite us.”

“What we need now is a considered and coherent route out of it; otherwise, we will face a similar debate in six or 12 months’ time.”

Earlier this month, health secretary Sajid Javid encouraged all GPs in England to make full use of the GP CPCS referrals for minor illnesses to enable more prescribing by community pharmacists.

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