Community pharmacies in Wales will be given an extra £2.5m from the Welsh government to improve patient access to common ailment advice and treatment.
The £2.5m pot equates to up to £3,500 for each community pharmacy in Wales that provides the ‘Choose Pharmacy’ common ailment service, which provides patients in Wales with free community pharmacy-based advice and over-the-counter medicines for 26 minor illnesses, including back pain, constipation and sore throat.
Pharmacies will be able to claim the extra funding if they increase access to ‘Choose Pharmacy’, including a requirement to provide at least 85 patient appointments under the programme between 17 January 2022 and 31 March 2022.
In a statement published on 11 January 2022, Eluned Morgan, Welsh minister for health and social services, said the money would “reduce pressures on GPs and other NHS services by encouraging patients to speak to a participating community pharmacist rather than their GP”, as pressure from the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic continues to affect the health service.
In a statement, Mark Griffiths, chair of Community Pharmacy Wales (CPW), said: “[CPW is] extremely grateful to the pharmacists across Wales for their vital work during the pandemic .. [and is] pleased this has been recognised through the Welsh government’s commitment to additional funding of £2.5m to increase access to and availability of priority services.”
Griffiths also said that community pharmacists played a “significant role in providing front line treatment during the pandemic”. As of December 2021, community pharmacists in Wales had provided 168,300 flu vaccinations — a 92% increase compared to the same time in 2020 — as well as providing 283,047 lateral flow kits to patients.
Elen Jones, director for Wales at the Royal Pharmaceutical Society, welcomed the investment. “We fully support the approach to enhancing patient access to primary healthcare by further utilising the skills and knowledge of community pharmacists.
“We are very pleased that these additional monies will support the flexibility and resilience of community pharmacy teams in continuing to deliver services throughout the demanding winter months.”
The Welsh government’s £100m health and social care services recovery plan, published in March 2021, promised that “developing the role of our community pharmacy in services, especially clinical services, will build on the developments we saw during the pandemic”.