The move – already seen in some parts of the country – would free up 40 million GP appointments and save NHS England up to £640million a year. Family doctors could then devote more time to patients with more complex or serious conditions.
The renewed call came from the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee, which speaks for the country’s 11,200 community chemists.
It said the cost of funding walk-in services in pharmacies would be around £560million, compared with £1.2billion for those 40 million GP appointments – a saving of £640million a year.
PSNC Director of NHS Services Alastair Buxton said: “The benefits of an enhanced pharmacy walk-in service to the public and to the NHS are clear and we hope the NHS and Government will act on this.”
But the group also warned that pharmacies face much higher costs than previous years due to inflation – and the right funding would need to be in place.