Associate feature: Primary care services from your local community pharmacy

Written by Matt Barclay on 9 September 2019 in Comment

Matt Barclay, Director of Operations at Community Pharmacy Scotland, on new services available through the Minor Ailment Service and the Pharmacy First Service

Image credit: Community Pharmacy Scotland 

Scotland provides a range of innovative health services and is making the important move to diversify the way that people can access primary care. When you think of the years of training that all healthcare professionals undergo, plus the different specialisations which lead individuals to become nurses, pharmacists, dentists, ophthalmologists etc., it makes for a much better use of resources for there to be referral pathways and specialist clinics which don’t require people to see their GP where this is clinically appropriate.

There are many different examples of these types of healthcare provision and there is a considerable amount of easily accessible medical advice available from your local community pharmacy.

In particular, the Minor Ailment Service and the Pharmacy First Service are popular and extremely useful services in part due to their accessibility. The Minor Ailment Service allows people who fit certain criteria, such as under 19 or over 65, to receive advice and where appropriate over the counter medication as an NHS service. The Pharmacy First Service is one where people who have certain conditions, such as a UTI or impetigo, can receive prescription medication from their pharmacist once they have had a consultation. Both of these services free up GP time and allow conditions to be treated appropriately in a community pharmacy setting.

The Scottish Government has recognised the value of these services and is in the process of negotiating a new service with Community Pharmacy Scotland which will merge and expand the scope of both. This innovative new NHS service will allow the wider population access to their pharmacist to receive a consultation and, where appropriate, receive treatment.

The ability for people to go and speak to a qualified professional without the need for an appointment when they are experiencing a self-limiting illness should make a significant difference to how people experience the healthcare system. Many people struggle to get a GP appointment, and, in many cases, their local pharmacist could have advised them on the best course of action and helped them feel better sooner. Our research on the existing version of the Minor Ailment Service showed that if people had not been able to access the service then 59 per cent would have seen their GP, 10 per cent would have called NHS 24 and two per cent would have visited A&E. Clearly there is a need for this service and its extension to the wider population will be a significant opportunity to alleviate some of the pressure in primary care.

The Scottish Government has announced that this service will be in place for April 2020. We believe this is an important step in recognising the clinical value of Community Pharmacists and what they can offer for improving the accessibility of patient care in the primary care sector and are excited to see this new service be rolled out across Scotland.

This piece was sponsored by Community Pharmacy Scotland

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