The pharmacy multiple Lloydspharmacy has established a minor ailments and injuries service in the accident and emergency (A&E) department of the Pennine Acute Hospitals NHS Trust in Manchester.
Patients can be referred to the pharmacy clinic, called the First Care Clinic, after being seen by a casualty triage nurse for any of a defined 21 conditions, which include athlete’s foot, pressure blisters, scabies and conjunctivitis, and should help relieve pressure from existing A&E staff.
“The clinic enables us to refer appropriate patients to have their conditions efficiently and effectively treated,” says Jimmy Stuart, consultant and clinical director of urgent care at the trust. “This could potentially free up the equivalent of two clinicians per shift who can concentrate on patients with more serious conditions.”
The aim of the service is to have patients seen by the pharmacist within 15 minutes of being triaged and within 30 minutes of arriving at A&E, under the terms of the pilot scheme agreed between Lloydspharmacy and the NHS trust.
Pharmacy can bridge the gap between community and secondary care, says Stuart, and “is an important piece within the solution-jigsaw to the problems currently experienced by the NHS”.
Lloydspharmacy superintendent pharmacist Steve Howard says the pilot scheme builds on the minor ailment and injury clinics being trialled at three of the company’s community pharmacies. “We have had extremely positive feedback from patients who have used the clinic so far, indicating a willingness and confidence in patients to consider using pharmacy as an alternative to A&E.”
The clinic will be reviewed on an ongoing basis, says a Lloydspharmacy spokesperson. “The evaluation will consider what community pharmacy can do to alleviate the burden on urgent care, as well as which types of ailments and minor injuries would directly impact the reduction in patients into A&E.”
The company, which is discussing the First Care Clinic initiative with other NHS trusts, has no plans to publish findings from its evaluation.