Sajid Javid

Health secretary Sajid Javid vouches support for a “pharmacy first” model of care for minor illnesses, to help clear the backlog of NHS care arising due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Speaking at the National Pharmacy Association’s (NPA) centenary dinner in central London on Wednesday (November 24), Javid said he wanted to “go further” than existing services like the NHS Community Pharmacist Consultation Service, to make it “quicker and easier” for people to access primary care.

He said: “I want to see how much further we can go. That’s one of the reasons why we’re working up plans for a pharmacy first model in England that will direct more patients directly to pharmacies without having to go to see their GPs. This will help us to beat the backlog and make sure that even more people can benefit from (pharmacists’) brilliant advice and care.”

Expressing his commitment to transform every aspect of health and care in the country he said that community pharmacies should be “at the very heart of primary care – not just treating people but preventing people from becoming patients in the first place.”

Custodians of nation’s health

Calling pharmacists, the custodians of the nation’s health and the friendly face of healthcare in our communities, Javid said: “I want to make sure we are making the very best use of your talents, to provide care in a quicker and easier way.”

Javid said that pharmacists have played a “starring role” during the pandemic by providing essential care and advice to people.

He said: “You have played a starring role in this pandemic. You stayed open to get medicines to those who need them; you’ve helped us make lateral flow tests part of people’s everyday routine; and you’ve also put jabs in the arms of people to tackle both cold and flu.”

Talking about his vision for pharmacies and expanding their role he said: “I want to see more pharmacies dealing with healthy people with minor illnesses and being referred to and treated in their community pharmacies.”

Javid also appreciated the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) for their work on approving Covid-19 vaccinations.

NPA chair, Andrew Lane also praised the efforts of pharmacies to save lives during the pandemic, adding they are well-positioned to become “the backlog busting centrepiece of the NHS’s recovery from Covid-19.

“We can dramatically improve access to healthcare, and free up well over 20 million GP and hospital appointments.

He, however, voiced concerns over funding cuts for pharmacies, which needs to be “reversed if we are to power our can-do agenda for improving patient care and tackling the NHS backlog.”

The event was attended by over 100 guests, including representatives from patients groups, doctors’ leaders, senior NHS officials and various pharmacy body representatives.

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