Community pharmacists in Grampian have been given the go-ahead to supply antibiotics to women with uncomplicated urinary tract infections (UTI) under a new patient group direction.
More than 90 pharmacies have signed up to the initiative — available to women aged between 16 and 65 years. The scheme enables pharmacists to supply an antibiotic to specific patients under an agreed protocol without the need for individual prescriptions.
Alasdair Jamieson, GP lead for Aberdeen City with NHS Grampian, says: “Previously, over-the-counter treatments from community pharmacies for UTI would relieve only the symptoms and didn’t address the root bacterial infection. That wasn’t ideal for patients.”
It is estimated that UTIs account for up to 25,000 GP appointments annually, but the new service has to potential to reduce this workload, “freeing up appointments and allowing greater focus on more complex, urgent medical conditions”, says Jamieson:
“Clearly that will have significant direct and indirect benefits for patients, right across general practice,” he says.
Caroline Hind, deputy director of pharmacy and medicines management for NHS Grampian, says that pharmacists have been trained to follow defined prescribing guidelines, adding that she is confident the service will “really improve access to effective treatment for patients”.
The scheme has been launched following similar initiatives in England and a pilot scheme being run by NHS Forth Valley.
However, the supply of antibiotics under PGDs has courted controversy in the past. In 2013, for example, the National Pharmacy Association took the decision to remove trimethoprim from its PGD service after concerns were raised about antimicrobial resistance.
- This article was amended on 29 September 2016 to correct a factual inaccuracy: The supply of a medicine under a patient group direction is not a form of prescribing, as originally suggested.