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Pharmacists to get more involved in frontline care

Expanding the role of pharmacies in frontline healthcare will open up access to treatment for millions living in deprived and remote areas of England, says Health Minister Ben Bradshaw.

The White Paper, Building On strengths, Delivering the Future, proposes that pharmacies should become "healthy living centres" encouraging people to take better care of themselves.

Pharmacists will also be able to prescribe common medicines and act as the first port of call for minor ailments.

The Department of Health say this will save every GP around an hour a day, adding up to a total saving of 57 million GP consultations each year.

It is also hoped that pharmacies will provide support for long-term conditions such as asthma and high blood pressure, and screen for disease such as heart disease and sexually transmitted infections.

Pharmacists may even play a larger role in vaccination.

The Department of Health say this move will enable pharmacies to provide increased access to medicines and care.

Ben Bradshaw said: "These proposals are not about pharmacists taking over the work of GPs and enabling them to spend more time with those patients who really need it."

Department of Health

Do you think the expansion of the pharmacist's role is a good thing? How will it affect the nurse's role?

Your comments: (Terms and conditions apply)

"I think that the goverment should rather make use of RCN nurses in clinics or medical centers. There are many nurses far more skilled in general healthcare than pharmacists. Far more nurses available too..." - Tony Reid, Mundesley, Norwich

"Isn't this part of the work that experienced and qualified practice nurses already do? Has someone got two new government proposals mixed up? Let the pharmacies do the proposed screening for those between 40 and 74, and leave the nurses to carry on with their management of long-term conditions without adding a third person in to the equation. The DH doesn't appear to know that primary care nurses exist as a profession. How much more can primary care be fragmented?" - Tracey Day, Northants

"It is a good sensible idea to ease the pressure of GPs, and a qualified pharmacist must know more than a doctor abuot medicines and the side-effects and straints of the drug and storage. And to attract more professionals it is easy to ease the education system and attract migrants in refreshing courses to update their training to become eligible to work. I am a pharmacist because my diploma is not from UK or EU. I am not eligible for registration and there is not an easy way for me to go ahead and stand on my own feet. In the clinics, doctors, nurses and pharmacists are the main bodies behind the health profession. It will effect positively on the nurses' role too." - Azami Khalilullah, London