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Pharmacy pilot aims to take burden away from GPs.
An extension of a service that allows people to have minor ailments treated by a community pharmacist, rather than their GP, is to be piloted.
The Minor Ailment Service means patients with common minor ailments can attend a community pharmacy to have their symptoms assessed and receive advice, referral or treatment. It is currently open to patients under 16, over 60, those with maternity or medical exemptions and those on lower incomes.
As part of the pilot, starting tomorrow (Monday 30 January), the service will be extended to all patients registered with a GP in the Inverclyde area. All of Inverclyde’s 19 community pharmacies have signed up to the scheme.
The Inverclyde pilot will test whether opening up the Minor Ailment Service to all patients will improve access to appropriate primary care services and will reinforce pharmacy as the first port of call for minor ailments.
In addition to minor ailments, as part of the pilot, pharmacists will be able to assess and provide treatment for some of the most common uncomplicated conditions that normally require a GP prescription - further helping to free up GP time. It will also promote and support self-care when this is the most appropriate course of action.
Patients will still be able to make an appointment with their GP if they prefer. However, the aim of increasing the role of community pharmacies in this way will help to reduce the burden on GPs, and other local healthcare services, and allow them to spend more time on more complex consultations.
Health Secretary Shona Robison said: "The Scottish Government is working with the GP profession to improve and redesign the way primary care is delivered in Scotland. We are shifting the balance of care away from hospitals and into the community, increasing our investment in primary care and GP services by £500m by the end of this parliament.
"We know that pharmacists are well qualified to successfully deal with patients who have minor ailments, ensuring appropriate treatment, advice or referral. Indeed, this service has been successfully running across Scotland for eligible patients since 2006.
"By extending the minor ailment service to all patients in Inverclyde we will be able to test the benefits for patients and service provision generally. Importantly, we want to know whether this will reduce the burden on GPs and other local services, if it will deliver and support better and appropriate access to primary care for patients, and how the current service could be further developed nationally.”