Well Pharmacy has partnered with a digital healthcare company, Push Doctor, to launch what the two companies called the country’s first pharmacy-first digital service.

They are launching a pilot scheme which will provide over 50,000 patients with direct access to local community pharmacists via the Push Doctor platform to treat minor ailments.

With a potential one-third of all GP appointments in country treated online by pharmacists who are clinically trained to treat minor ailments, it is hoped that the joint effort will free up GP appointments for those with serious or chronic health issues, easing the burden on the local NHS at a time of unprecedented demand.

“Through this partnership with Push Doctor we will demonstrate the central role pharmacists can play in providing primary care, prompting a shift towards a pharmacy-first patient mindset,” CEO of Well Pharmacy Seb Hobbs said in a press released issued on Monday, Feb 1.

“The partnership provides an amazing opportunity for us to increase patient access to pharmacy services and ensure that they can fully leverage the expertise of these highly trained clinicians,” he added.

Patients using the online service will be able to access a highly trained Well pharmacist at a time that suits them. Patients can conduct digital consultations using any device with video capability and internet connection. These consultations are Covid safe, confidential, and conducted at no additional cost to the NHS, the statement added.

The pilot, initially run at a single GP practice for four weeks, has now been extended to a further three GP practices across Plymouth Sound primary care network and is currently available to over 50,000 patients living in the local area.

If the pilot is successful, Push Doctor and Well will be increasing the number of surgeries offering digital pharmacist consultations, with Well looking to recruit more clinical pharmacists as the partnership expands.

Wais Shaifta, chief executive, Push Doctor, said: “By fully utilising the skill and expertise of pharmacists, we will remove non-essential footfall for GP practices, freeing up more time for GPs to see patients with more serious medical issues. We hope this will be the start of a new pharmacy-first delivery model that will set up a future digital NHS across the country.”

A similar service is also on offer in Warrington PCN, where Well’s clinical pharmacists work alongside GPs as part of an integrated practice team.

These highly skilled pharmacists provide proactive health support designed to prevent patients from getting ill from chronic conditions, such as medication reviews, long-term condition reviews and support for discharge letters and regular care home ward rounds.

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