A project to make community pharmacy the first port of call for minor ailments that was introduced during the pandemic is to be expanded.
NHS Pharmacy First notched up more than two million consultations since it launched in July 2020, healthandcare.scot reported last week.
The vast majority of patients had their concerns dealt with by their pharmacist, with just 4% referred to another health professional for treatment.
A parallel initiative has seen pharmacists conduct more than 200,000 appointments for urinary tract and skin infections that would otherwise be in GP surgeries or A&E departments, Chief Pharmaceutical Officer Alison Strath told the inaugural Future Pharmacist conference.
Speaking today to mark the two million milestone, Health Secretary Humza Yousaf said: “As part of the NHS Recovery Plan we will look to expand the range of common clinical conditions that can be treated by community pharmacists, avoiding unnecessary GP and out of hours appointments.
“We have also committed to establishing a community pharmacy hospital discharge and medicines reconciliation service to help speed up the process for people being discharged from hospital.
“New digital solutions such as ePrescribing and eDispensing will make prescribing paperless and free up capacity for healthcare professionals to see more patients, while making it easier for the public to access their medicines quickly and safely.”
Matt Barclay from Community Pharmacy Scotland said: “In terms of the expansion this was always in the plans for the Pharmacy First service. Along with the Scottish government we are keen to map out the timelines for this and the associated discharge service which we already knew about from the recovery plan.
“This will then allow the network to be aware of what is coming up and plan accordingly with appropriate resources, ways of working and training. These are exciting services which will enhance the contribution of community pharmacy further and ultimately support patients who already seem to be embracing Pharmacy First.”
The expansion comes despite concerns of a ‘brain drain’ of some 600 professionals from pharmacies to GP surgeries.
Community Pharmacy Scotland called last month for a temporary pause to this part of the GP contract.