Last year, the Prime Minister made cutting NHS waiting lists one of his top priorities for the country.

We have stuck to the plan and are making good progress, including eliminating the longest waits of over two years and cutting 18 month waits by over 90 per cent from the peak in September 2021.

We have met our manifesto pledges to deliver 50 million additional GP appointments since 2019 and have recruited record numbers of doctors and nurses, but I recognise there is much more to do.

That is why the Conservative Government announced our Primary Care Recovery Plan, which will help us to better recover from the pandemic by delivering up to 10 million more appointments, as we cut NHS waiting lists and make the most of the opportunities ahead. The plan includes measures which focus on three key areas:

-tackling the 8am rush by giving GPs new digital tools

-freeing up GP appointments by funding pharmacists to do more with a

Pharmacy First approach

- providing more GP staff and more appointments.

I am pleased to update my constituents on the launch of our Pharmacy First scheme.

Pharmacy First will enable pharmacists to make better use of their medical skills and training, meaning that patients can receive treatment for seven common health conditions from their local pharmacy without the need to visit a GP or have a prescription.

Since the 31st January, pharmacists have been able to see patients with seven conditions: sinusitis, sore throat, earache, infected insect bite, impetigo, shingles, and uncomplicated urinary tract infections in women. Following an assessment, a pharmacist can now supply prescription-only medicines, including antibiotics and antivirals, to treat these seven conditions.

The new Pharmacy First approach will not only speed up access to essential care for patients, but also help to take pressure off local GP services by directing people to more appropriate places to be treated.

Backed by up to £645 million, 95 per cent of pharmacies in England have opted-in so far, meaning that patients will be able to receive care more quickly without the need to wait for a GP appointment. Every pharmacy in Gloucestershire has signed up.

Improving access to primary care is an essential part of the Conservatives’ longterm plan to reduce pressure on the NHS.

By sticking to the plan, we are delivering on our pledge to cut NHS waiting lists, delivering more care in the community and ensuring that patients receive the care they need, when they need it.

Contact me: [email protected] | | House of Commons, London, SW1A 0AA | @Mark_J_Harper |