All patients in Inverclyde are to be able to have medicines for minor ailments provided directly by their community pharmacist under a pilot scheme to test whether opening up the minor ailment service (MAS) to all patients will improve access to primary care and encourage patients to use the pharmacy as a first port of call.
The move is part of a wider strategy in Scotland to give a greater role to pharmacists in providing care in the community and reduce the burden on GPs. If the scheme is successful, it could be rolled out nationally across Scotland in the future.
Since 2006, the minor ailment service has been available to those aged over-60s, under-16s, pregnant women and people with medical exemptions or on low incomes. But from 30 January 2017, all 19 community pharmacies in the Inverclyde area will offer the service to anyone registered with a GP. Pharmacists will be able to assess NHS patients and provide treatment for some common uncomplicated conditions usually requiring a prescription from a GP.
The Scottish government says patients would still be able to make an appointment with their GP if they prefer.
Shona Robison, the Scottish health secretary, says: “The Scottish government is working with the GP profession to improve and redesign the way primary care is delivered in Scotland.
“We know that pharmacists are well qualified to successfully deal with patients who have minor ailments, ensuring appropriate treatment, advice or referral.”
She adds: “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.”