Sir Simon Stevens, chief executive officer of the NHS, chose a Brixton pharmacy to publicise a scheme to help Londoners get care safely and quickly during the pandemic.
He visited the Pavilion Pharmacy in the Piano Building on Brighton Terrace.
Martin Uhelak, superintendent pharmacist at Pavilion, said: “Our pharmacy has been a hub of support to the community throughout the crisis.
“In addition to our normal service, we’ve helped many through the NHS 111 Community Pharmacist Consultation Service (CPCS).
“We’ve also set up a service to help deliver medicines to self-isolating patients by putting a request out via local neighbourhood apps for support, and then inviting respondents to attend training sessions.
“I’m so proud of all the pharmacy team and how we’ve risen to the challenge of COVID-19, providing clinical advice on minor illnesses and medicines and often reassuring families with children, older people living alone and those people who have been struggling to cope.”
The NHS said the scheme has seen almost 40,000 Londoners get a quick, safe, face-to-face appointment with a pharmacist.
It was set out in the NHS Long Term Plan, published in January 2019, as one of a number of improvements to the 111 phone and online service to enable the public to access the right help in the right place.
People who the 111 service judges would benefit from face-to-face consultation with a pharmacist for a range of minor illnesses or to get an urgent supply of a previously prescribed medicine, are booked in for one on the same day.
The NHS is encouraging people who might have held back due to Covid-19 to come forward over care concerns, and local pharmacies are gearing up to provide more consultations safely.
Liz Wise, director of primary care and public health commissioning for NHS London, said: “Pharmacies across the capital have put their all into supporting their communities during the pandemic and have made a real difference to so many people.
“Access to same-day advice and care via the NHS 111 CPCS is even more important at this time – with 37,200 referrals since the service started, Londoners have demonstrated how much they value NHS 111 and their local pharmacist in helping them get advice and treatment.”
Local pharmacies have joined GP practices, out of hours GP and dental services, and urgent treatment centres among the range of alternatives to A&E that people can be booked into if they need urgent care.
Most (89.3%) of London’s 1,655 pharmacies have registered to provide the NHS community pharmacist consultation service.
Insect and spider bites, skin and eye problems, headaches and minor injuries were among the most common issues resolved by a consultation with a pharmacist.
Some 200 people have been helped to get the urgent care as quickly as possible through immediate escalation after seeing a pharmacist.