A £750,000 technology investment that will enable pharmacists across Wales to provide a minor ailments service to patients has been announced by deputy health minister Vaughan Gething.
Following the completion of a “successful” minor ailments pilot scheme in 2015, Gething announced that the service — called Choose Pharmacy — will become available for health boards to commission locally during 2016.
“By enabling people with minor ailments to see highly skilled pharmacists for advice and treatment, it will free up GPs’ time to focus on those people with more complex cases and reduce patient waiting times,” says Gething.
Under the initiative, patients will have a consultation with a pharmacist who will be able to choose a treatment from a list of medicines, provided for free. Local health boards will have to fund the scheme through their existing budgets if they choose to commission the service.
The money for the IT system will come from the ‘Efficiency through Technology Fund’ and will enable pharmacists to access people’s GP record or their individual health record with consent. Pharmacists will be able to record a consultation electronically, receive electronic discharge information from hospitals and provide an out-of-hours service for supplying emergency medicines to patients with existing prescriptions.
Up to 18% of GPs’ workload and 8% of emergency department consultations are estimated to relate to minor ailments, such as coughs, colds, earache, hay fever, conjunctivitis and head lice.