Community pharmacies in North Wales saw a more than three-fold increase in patients seeking emergency medicine in December 2022, figures from a local health board show.
In a press release from Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board (BCUHB), published on 27 January 2023, the board said there had been a 345% increase in the number of people seeking emergency medicines from a community pharmacy in North Wales, when compared with the same month in 2021.
It added that a total of 3,229 emergency medicine consultations were carried out at community pharmacies in December 2022 across the BCUHB area.
In the same month, the number of common ailments service consultations carried out in community pharmacies increased by 177%, compared with 12 months ago, with 6,278 consultations recorded in December 2022. Independent prescribing service consultations also rose by 300%, with 1,799 consultations recorded in the same month.
Karen Higgins, director of primary care at BCUHB, said: “This remains an exceptionally challenging time for colleagues across our health services, particularly in primary care.
“We’re hugely grateful for the continued efforts being made by staff in pharmacies and GP surgeries in such difficult circumstances.
“We also owe a huge debt of gratitude to the North Wales public for choosing the most appropriate NHS services during this very challenging period. In particular, it’s very pleasing that more people with minor illnesses or conditions are taking advantage of the free, expert advice provided at their local community pharmacy, which can usually be accessed more quickly than other services.”
Llyr Hughes, a pharmacist at Fferyllwyr Llŷn Cyf pharmacy in Gwynedd, said: “Betsi Health Board has been some of the trailblazers for developing and expanding the acute services offered in community pharmacies and we know this is making a difference to the NHS during this very challenging time.
“Community pharmacy colleagues have been working at maximum capacity and, while it has been exhausting, it is also very rewarding as we know that patients really value the service we provide.”
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In Scotland there has been a huge increase in the number of Community Pharmacy Urgent Supplies (CPUS) too. Surgeries are directing patients to the community pharmacy quite often inappropriately. They are not processing repeats quickly enough taking around 7 to 10 working days. I realise this is a service we provide but it is not a repeat prescription service. Patients have been quite aggressive if it is something we cannot do. Obviously we try and help when we can but pharmacy staff are at breaking point .