Minor ailments consultations in community pharmacies increase by almost three-quarters in a year

Data from the Welsh government show that more than half of all consultations concerned conjunctivitis, hay fever, sore throat and tonsillitis, or dry skin/dermatitis.
older woman talking to pharmacists at pharmacy counter

The number of consultations under the common minor ailments service in Wales increased by nearly three-quarters during 2022/2023, compared with the same period in the year before, according to a Welsh government report.

Data from NHS Wales Shared Services Partnership (Primary Care Services), published by the Welsh government on 20 December 2023, reveal that there were nearly 240,000 consultations for common ailments in 2022/2023, an increase of 73.9% from 2021/2022.

The increase follows a change to the ‘Community pharmacy contractual framework’ (CPCF) in April 2022, which enabled pharmacies to provide treatment for common minor ailments, access to repeat medicines in an emergency, annual flu vaccinations, and some forms of emergency and regular contraception.

The new services are supported by the ‘Choose Pharmacy’ IT system, developed by Digital Health and Care Wales, which provides pharmacies with access to shared patient information.

Under the common ailments service, patients can be treated in community pharmacies for conditions including hay fever, back pain, acne, head lice and sore throats.

Judy Misra, director of contractor services at Community Pharmacy Wales (CPW), told The Pharmaceutical Journal: “CPW is pleased to see the significant increase in the use of the common ailment services in Wales over the past 12 months — indeed, a 73% increase from the same period last year, which reflects the hard work of community pharmacy teams across Wales”.

She added that community pharmacy teams “have demonstrated how they can greatly assist NHS Wales and alleviate pressures elsewhere in the system.

“However, for this to continue, the network must be supported as it faces unprecedented challenges in 2024.”

The Welsh government report shows that more than 190,000 people in Wales used the common ailments service during 2022/2023.

More than half (54.0%) of all consultations were for four conditions: conjunctivitis (16.8%), hay fever (14.3%), sore throat and tonsillitis (12.6%), and dry skin/dermatitis (10.3%).

Laura Humphrey, professional engagement lead for Wales at the Royal Pharmaceutical Society, said the number of consultations reflected “the incredible hard work of community pharmacists and their teams, ensuring patients have access to advice and treatment”.

She added: “The large increase in common ailment consultations not only demonstrates the essential clinical role community pharmacists play in keeping their local population well, but also the high level of trust and confidence patients have in them to seek advice.”

CPW confirmed that the Welsh government has awarded community pharmacies £6.3m in additional core funding for the 2023/2024 CPCF.

This brings baseline funding for Welsh community pharmacies to £165.1m for 2023/2024, CPW said.

Last updated
The Pharmaceutical Journal, PJ, January 2024, Vol 312, No 7981;312(7981)::DOI:10.1211/PJ.2024.1.206518

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