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50,000 patients take part in UK’s first digital pharmacy service

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Around a third of GP appointments could be done remotely

A leading digital healthcare company has joined forces with an independent pharmacy chain to launch a new scheme to treat patients and reduce the pressures on GPs.

Push Doctor has partnered with Well Pharmacy, to provide over 50,000 patients direct access to local community pharmacists.

Pharmacists estimate that one-third of GP appointments nationally could be treated by clinically trained colleagues.

By adopting a pharmacy-first approach, patients who access the Push Doctor platform with minor concerns will be directed to a pharmacist who will be able to offer quick and effective treatment online. They say this 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.  

Using the Push Doctor platform patients will be able to access a highly trained Well Pharmacist flexibly 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 pilot, initially run at a single GP practice for 4 weeks, has now been extended to a further 3 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.

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.

Wais Shaifta, Chief Executive, Push Doctor, said: “We are delighted to be partnering with Well Pharmacy to provide the residents of Plymouth with better access to primary care.”

“By directing patients to the most appropriate clinician in the first instance we can treat them faster and more effectively, delivering better health outcomes across the local area. 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.”

Seb Hobbs, CEO, Well Pharmacy, said: “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. 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.”

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