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Pharmacy minor ailment pilot to reduce pressure on GPs

A pilot extension of the Minor Ailment Service has been launched which aims to have pharmacists, rather than GPs, treat these conditions.

As part of this service, patients with common minor ailments can go to a community pharmacy rather than a GP practice for advice, referral or treatment. Currently it is only open to patients under 16, over 60, patients on lower incomes and those with maternity or medical exemptions.

This is now going to be extended to all patients in the Inverclyde area of Scotland, with all 19 community pharmacies there signed up.

As well as increasing the number of patients covered, as part of the pilot, the pharmacists will be able to treat some of the more common uncomplicated conditions that normally need a prescription form a GP and promote self-care.

Shona Robison, health secretary in Scotland said: ‘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.’