The innovative NHS Pharmacy First service has helped see over 2,000,000 patients quickly since its launch in July 2020.
The service has relieved pressure on A&E units and GP surgeries, by sparing the NHS avoidable appointments, for example, for the treatment of urinary tract and skin infections.
The NHS Pharmacy First network of more than 1,200 community pharmacies is the first port of call for minor ailments and common clinical conditions.
The service provides free access to a consultation with an appropriately qualified member of the pharmacy team who provides advice on self-care, referral to another part of the NHS if they feel it is necessary and, if appropriate, will provide treatment.
The community pharmacist can also treat certain conditions such as urinary tract infections, shingles and impetigo without the need for a prescription or to see a doctor. This is part of a co-ordinated series of measures to improve patient care and help reduce demand on A&E.
Since its launch at the height of the pandemic, only 4% of patients needed to be referred on to another healthcare professional, such as a GP or hospital unit. The majority were handled by the pharmacy team, advice on self-care or with treatment.
Kenneth Gibson MSP said:
“Community pharmacists across North Ayrshire and Scotland are playing a cricual role in ensuring that millions of people have their minor ailment needs addressed quickly, which will be even more important as we enter one of the most difficult winters in the history of the NHS.
“The SNP Government introduced the NHS Pharmacy First service, backed by £10 million of investment. As part of the NHS Recovery Plan, the range of common clinical conditions that can be treated by community pharmacists is anticipated to expand, avoiding unnecessary GP and out of hours appointments as this has been working so well.”
Across NHS Ayrshire & Arran, 65,000 people are registered with their community pharmacy for this service. Almost 10,000 people consult with their pharmacist every month.