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Pharmacy First service rolled out across health boards in Scotland

An initiative which enables patients to access treatments for uncomplicated urinary tract infections and impetigo from a community pharmacy is being rolled out across every health board in Scotland in time for the 2017–2018 winter period.

Pharmacy First, a scheme which aims to improve patient access to GP appointments by encouraging patients with certain minor ailments to use the pharmacy for treatment rather than making an appointment at the surgery, also increases access for patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease to medication-related advice and patient-centred medicine review.

Community pharmacists will carry out a consultation with patients and provide advice and treatment under locally agreed patient group directions.

A spokesperson for the Scottish government said: “Pharmacy First will allow uncomplicated urinary tract infections in women and impetigo in children to be treated without the need for a GP appointment or prescription, opening access to treatment both in and out-of-hours.

“This builds on the role of pharmacists as part of the multidisciplinary team in primary care, making the best use of their clinical skills.”

Each health board has its own local implementation plans and will roll out the service according to localised need, but most are planning to make the service available in order to tackle the imminent pressures of winter.

“The availability of the service from community pharmacy improves access for patients as no appointment is necessary and opening hours are longer,” said Amanda Rae, head of policy and development at Community Pharmacy Scotland. “It also saves costs to the NHS and frees up GP time,” she added.

There were already various local examples of this service, but, said Rae, the national rollout would bring consistency to the patient experience and the benefits felt by the wider primary healthcare team.

The rollout is supported by the Scottish Antimicrobial Prescribing Group and builds on services already available in some health boards such as NHS Grampian.

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal DOI: 10.1211/PJ.2017.20203946

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