Associate feature: How community pharmacies can help tackle minor ailments

Written by Matt Barclay on 14 January 2019 in Comment

Matt Barclay, Director of Operations at Community Pharmacy Scotland, on a new independent report on the Minor Ailment Service

Image credit: Community Pharmacy Scotland

Have a minor illness that doesn’t seem serious enough for a GP appointment? 65% of people surveyed would rather see their community pharmacist for advice and treatment than their GP

Community Pharmacy Scotland has just published an independent report on the Minor Ailment Service and the impressions and perceived efficacy by those who use it. This report is both the largest and the first nation-wide study of this service, with respondents from every Health Board.

So, what is the Minor Ailment Service?

The Minor Ailment Service (MAS) is provided by community pharmacies and is available to qualifying groups of people, such as children, those over 60 and people on certain benefits. The service is intended to allow patients to go directly to their community pharmacist for minor health concerns and helps people to improve their self-care of certain illnesses. This service is also intended to combat health inequalities, as it is an NHS service which is accessible in community pharmacies.

What does the report show?

The Minor Ailment Service is popular with users: 87% of those surveyed rated the service as 10 out of 10 for satisfaction and the overwhelming majority rated the service as ‘Excellent’.

Crucially, 65% said they would rather see their community pharmacist for this service than their GP and 70% strongly agreed that they would recommend this service to others.

The report demonstrates that users appreciated the MAS service for their ability to use it without an appointment, not to worry that their symptoms aren’t serious enough for a GP appointment and the convenience of seeing their local community pharmacist.

These results are significant as they demonstrate that community pharmacies provide excellent primary care which is greatly appreciated by those who use it. Community pharmacists are the experts in medicines and it makes perfect sense that their knowledge should be better utilised to help people manage their illnesses and to save NHS resources.

Save GP time: 60% said they would have seen a GP if this service were unavailable. Others said that in the absence of the service they would have bought over the counter medicines, would not have treated their condition, would have looked online for guidance or would have gone to A&E. The value of the Minor Ailment Service is clear, for both patients and for the NHS as a whole.

This piece was sponsored by Community Pharmacy Scotland

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