Jeremy Hunt has called on patients to visit their pharmacists rather than GPs or A&E for help with minor ailments. The Health Secretary has warned that the NHS is facing a crisis with the growing ageing population and increased visits to the GP and A&E in winter. Despite announcing a further £300m in beds and staff to cope the pressure on demand in A&E, he has said this is not sustainable to continue to do this.

Addressing the issue of growing financial pressure being faced by the NHS, Mr Hunt said: “Emergency admissions are growing about 3-4% year in, year out. We are very aware that over this winter there is going to be some real pressure there. The pressures are higher than they have ever been before in the system. It is worth also asking the question, is this going to go on like this? Are we going to have to continue having to put more and more sums into the NHS to withstand these pressures? “It is not sustainable in the long run to say that all the extra pressure in the NHS has to be borne by A&E departments.”

Meanwhile, Sir Bruce Keogh, the Managing Director of NHS England, said: “In other parts of Europe, pharmacies are very well used. Our GPs, frankly, during the winter feel really under strain with people coming in with coughs and colds. A lot of that strain could be relieved if people use pharmacies more.”

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