Scottish patients should be encouraged to use community pharmacists more to reduce non-attendance at primary care appointments, Community Pharmacy Scotland has said.
Responding to a paper in The Lancet which found that 19% of patients in Scotland missed at least two GP appointments in three years, Community Pharmacy Scotland policy and development pharmacist Adam Osprey said patients should be encouraged to use community pharmacies for minor conditions.
Osprey cited the Pharmacy First service, which runs in the Forth Valley area and is being rolled out across Scotland. It sees patients receive treatment in community pharmacies for minor conditions and helps ease the pressure on GPs and other elements of primary care.
The Pharmacy First scheme treats patients with uncomplicated urinary tract infections and impetigo, it enables patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease to get medication-related advice and patient-centred medicine reviews, and it has been extended to include treatment for bacterial conjunctivitis, recurrent vaginal candidiasis and minor skin conditions.
Easily accessible service
“Key to the success of this service is that no appointment is necessary. Advice will always be given and referrals can be made. We are certain that its appropriately resourced expansion would maximise the positive impact on primary care,” said Osprey.
He added that it would be beneficial to carry out further investigation of the reasons behind missed appointments as many occur because the condition has been resolved by the time the patient’s appointment takes place.
The Lancet report authors suggest targeting interventions at the practice level after finding that practices based in affluent urban areas with waiting times of a few days were more likely to have patients who repeatedly missed appointments.
Men, patients aged between 16 and 30 years, those older than 90 years, and patients of low socioeconomic status were significantly more likely to miss multiple appointments, the study found.