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MP champions idea from Stroud GP

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Stroud MP Siobhan Baillie has championed a call for a national education campaign to teach patients when to access the NHS and when to access other health services.

Ms Baillie said the suggestion came from a Stroud GP when she spoke about primary care in parliament on Tuesday.

The idea now has a sharper focus after the government unveiled plans this week to allow more people to access health services at pharmacies without needing to see a GP.

“GPs, pharmacists and primary care teams do an incredible job for local people in the Stroud district, and I look forward to the funding flowing to our pharmacists, as many of them have made a constructive case for it,” Siobhan told MPs.

“A local GP told me that he believes a national education campaign is needed to advise patients of when to access general practice and when to access other services, such as pharmacies. I think this is a good idea and given today’s announcement. Will the Government take it up?”

In reply, the health secretary Steve Barclay said: “My honourable friend is absolutely right on this and we plan to have a communications campaign. 

“The front door to the NHS can often be confusing for people—whether they should go to primary care, a pharmacy, accident and emergency or elsewhere. 

“We will have a campaign, not just linked to the opportunity to access care through Pharmacy First, but looking at the technology innovations we are bringing on stream, particularly on the NHS app. 

“We are also making changes to 111. So, there will be a communications campaign, on exactly the lines she references.”

Speaking afterwards Ms Baillie added: “I am pleased the government will be educating patients on how they access services as the NHS starts to really innovate how it works to drive efficiency and ease pressures.

“I would like to thank GPs and other primary care providers Stroud for speaking to me and feeding into this initiative. It is important their voices are heard because they have valuable input to give.”

The government announced on Tuesday that everyone will be able to go to chemists for some common prescriptions and routine tests. 

NHS England said it will free up 15m GP appointments over the next two years to help ease pressure on GP surgeries.

Pharmacy services will receive £645m over the next two years to expand staffing and resources to roll this plan out.

Bookings for NHS physiotherapy or podiatry will also be taken without the need to go to the GP. 

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