A big change is happening healthcare wise from 31st January with the launch of Pharmacy First. This means people can go to the chemist to be treated for common ailments and not have to seek an appointment with a GP.
The idea is to free up 10 million GP appointments for those who need them by allowing pharmacists to treat seven common conditions: earache, sore throat, sinusitis, impetigo, shingles, infected insect bites and uncomplicated urinary tract infections in women.
Pharmacies will be able to give prescriptions for antibiotics and other treatments, if appropriate. Women can also receive the contraceptive pill.
The scheme needs chemists to sign up and have the right IT and staff in place but more and more will join the scheme and start making a big difference. The NHS is under pressure from the Covid backlog and this initiative will help a lot, offer more choice to patients and lessen GP workload.
It has also been backed by more than £600 million of government money and is happening following a consultation to ensure it gets off to a good start. I support it because I believe it will make a difference to healthcare but residents will need to be patient in some areas while pharmacies join the scheme although across England 10,000 have done so.
In another welcome health move, the government will ban disposable vapes UK-wide to stop young people taking up vaping as figures show a rising number are doing so even though the health risks are largely unknown.
The measures will include preventing vapes being marketed at children and targeting under-age sales.
Some of these vapes are sold in bright packaging that attracts young people and different flavours even though it is illegal to sell vapes to anyone under 18.
We need to restrict vape access for children but allow adult smokers trying to quit smoking using vapes as it is not as harmful. I think this new policy strikes the right balance.
It is also important to say that even though vaping is less harmful, they haven’t been around long enough for us to know what damage they can do. Children and young people are still developing and vaping could harm them more than adults. We simply don’t know, so I am happy to be cautious and I support the ban.
Finally, if you need to get in touch with me to discuss a problem or a concern please get in touch by email: firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling my Worcester Street constituency office on 01384 370 574