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Don Lavoie is alcohol programme manager at Public Health England and Gul Root is lead pharmacist, Health and Wellbeing Directorate, Public Health England
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parliament MPsSeptember 29 2014

A pharmacy organisation has criticised the Labour party conference pledge to increase GP numbers while not mentioning pharmacy.

Pharmacy Voice, which represents pharmacy owners, says the pledge to increase the number of GPs by 8,000 and guarantee 48 hour access to GPs is “misguided”.

The proposals were made by the Labour leader and shadow health secretary at the Labour Party Conference. However, Pharmacy Voice says the pledge is “only deliverable if community pharmacy and other primary care providers are used more effectively.

“Rather than plugging the gap with thousands more GPs, which cannot be created quickly, the current GP crisis would be eased if GPs were not spending a large proportion of their time dealing with common ailments, such as coughs and colds, and managing long term health problems such as diabetes, all of which can be effectively dealt with by community pharmacy teams.”

Pharmacy Voice points out that common ailments account for 51.4 million GP consultations each year, a fifth of GP workload, with an estimated costs of £2 billion. “The majority of these ailments could be effectively treated in community pharmacy, freeing up GP capacity to manage more complex cases.”

It also highlights the ‘We Are Primary Care’ collaborative paper, Pharmacy Voice published earlier in the summer. This gives examples of ways in which primary care providers can work together to reduce the burden on general practice and A&E.

Pharmacy Voice’s chief executive Rob Darracott commented: “It is encouraging that NHS England and Labour politicians recognise the current and future problems our NHS is facing, but we must start talking about how we can better utilise the services that are currently available, rather than making the misguided claims that we have seen this week.

“It is imperative that primary care services are properly commissioned and planned. Without this, the work currently being done is not as effective as it could be, and we are storing up problems further down the line.”

Links:

Pharmacy Voice statement

PV ‘We Are Primary Care’

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