PHARMACIES in a new referral scheme are treating up to 2,000 patients a day, figures reveal.
They are easing pressure on the NHS as people get immediate help with everything from minor illnesses to requests for urgent medical supplies.
The NHS is diverting up to 2,000 patients a day to pharmacies in a new referral scheme
In just ten weeks of the community pharmacies scheme, 114,275 patients got same-day treatment.
Most were referred by NHS phone advisers rather than being sent to see a doctor.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said: This approach makes life easier for patients and will help to reduce pressure in the NHS.
“I want more patients with minor illness assessed close to home, saving them unnecessary trips to A&E or the GP and helping them quicker.
Nearly 11,000 pharmacies registered for the enhanced role to use their clinical expertise to help customers.
They have already given clinical advice to more than 50,000 people with minor ailments such as sore throats or earache.
They have also dealt with 64,000 requests for urgent medication for conditions such as diabetes and asthma.
Mr Hancock believes connecting patients with a pharmacy as their first port of call will relieve pressure on the hard-pressed NHS.
He said: Community pharmacies are an integral and trusted part of the NHS and we want every patient with a minor illness to think pharmacy first.
The push towards the high street chemist is part of a government drive to ensure an extra 34billion earmarked for the NHS is spent wisely.
NHS deputy chief pharmaceutical officer Bruce Warner said: This unlocks the full potential of community pharmacy.