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Minor ailment funding for Welsh pharmacy to free up GP time

A new funding package for pharmacy minor ailment training is set to free up GP time, the Welsh Government has said. 

Health minister Vaughan Gething announced earlier this month that pharmacists in Wales will receive an additional £100,000 to train on the management of minor ailments, traditionally not covered in initial pharmacy training. 

The funding, delivered by Health Education and Improvement Wales to 50 pharmacists, will enable more people to directly access services closer to home and allow GPs to spend more time on managing complex patient cases. 

The Welsh Government estimated that the training could release more than 10,000 hours of GPs’ time, based on the outcomes of another programme in which community pharmacists offer advice and/or treatment to patients for 26 conditions. 

A Welsh Government spokesperson said: ‘From September 2013 to April 2019, community pharmacists have carried out 77,172 consultations under the Common Ailments Scheme, freeing up over 10,000 hours of GPs’ time. Over time, we anticipate that community pharmacists with specialist clinical skills may have a similar impact.’

Mr Gething said: ‘I welcome the efforts of Welsh pharmacy professionals in working to ensure that pharmacies meet the changing healthcare needs of the people of Wales. There is increasing potential for pharmacists to be seen beyond their traditional role of dispensing medicines.’

He added: ‘This focused training on minor ailments will directly benefit patients by freeing up GP time. Our commitment, backed with significant new funding this year for training and continuing professional development, will ensure a sustainable and appropriately-trained pharmacy workforce in Wales. It will also offer pharmacists more varied and professionally rewarding careers.’

Last year, 600 Lloyds Pharmacy stores announced their intention to offer strep throab swab testing in a bid to help ease GP pressures and tackle antimicrobial resistance.