Simon Dukes, CEO, PSNC

Simon Dukes says the NHS should look to community pharmacies to help take pandemic-induced workload pressure off the GPs who have warned of being overwhelmed by a ‘tsunami’ of patients.

In a letter to the editor of The Telegraph on Sunday (May 31), the chief executive of the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) states that it is clear that the NHS needs pharmacies help to deal with the backlog of patients who waited out the pandemic.

GPs in recent months have spoken out about the pressure they are facing to deal with a huge backlog of cases as well as new and urgent workloads. They now say the situation is at ‘crisis proportions’ as many people’s conditions have deteriorated because of delay in seeking care during the pandemic.

What is the NHS waiting for?

Dukes, in the letter, wrote that a recent PSNC audit revealed how community pharmacies “undertake 58 million informal consultations” with patients every year. “Worryingly, almost 9 per cent of visitors were there because they had not been able to access other healthcare providers.”

He added: “Pharmacies have been a buffer for the NHS during the pandemic, saving it 24 million GP appointments a year. With the right support they could do even more.”

Dukes concluded by asking the NHS to take immediate action to meet the challenge of burgeoning workload faced by the GPs: “It is clear that the NHS needs our help. What is it waiting for?”

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