Wales’s health minister has praised the results of the common ailments service and confirmed that it is now being provided by almost all pharmacies in Wales.
Speaking at the Welsh Pharmacy Conference hosted by the Pharmacists’ Defence Association (PDA) near Cardiff on 23 May 2019, Vaughan Gething said the roll-out of the Choose Pharmacy IT platform, which underpins the common ailments service as well as access the Welsh GP patient record, has now been extended to 97% of pharmacies.
He told attendees that pharmacists have consulted with 80,000 patients under the scheme since the launch of the common ailments scheme in September 2013.
Gething added that 80% of patients using the common ailments service said that if the scheme had not been available they would otherwise have visited their GP, an out-of-hours service or an accident and emergency department.
The common ailments service, which was first piloted in October 2013, enables pharmacists to treat 26 common illnesses, such as dry eye, indigestion and cold sores, in patients registered with the scheme through Choose Pharmacy.
Gething also noted that pharmacists have seen more than 1,700 patients through the sore throat ‘test and treat’ pilot scheme, which was launched in 53 Welsh community pharmacies in November 2018.
The scheme, which is also underpinned by the Choose Pharmacy IT platform, sees pharmacists perform on-the-spot throat swabs to diagnose whether an illness is viral or bacterial.
Noting the ‘test and treat’ scheme’s “remarkable results”, Gething said more than 70% of the patients who have taken part so far were referred from their GP practice, with fewer than 20% of the patients seen through the scheme requiring antibiotics.
Also speaking at the conference, Emma Williams, national clinical lead for Choose Pharmacy, said it was now considering piloting “electronic transmissions to GPs with the common ailments service”, which would allow pharmacists to electronically message GPs with patient information regarding pharmacy visits to access the common ailments service, “rather than printing off bits of paper and sending it; [the information] will be sent electronically through the system”.