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Don Lavoie is alcohol programme manager at Public Health England and Gul Root is lead pharmacist, Health and Wellbeing Directorate, Public Health England
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Pharmacy researchMarch 9 2016

A community pharmacy-based NHS common ailments scheme in Wales has been given the go ahead by the Welsh Government. It means people will be able to see their pharmacist for free treatments without needing to make an appointment with their GP.

 

Community pharmacists will also undertake medication reviews when patients are discharged from hospital, and provide an emergency supply of prescribed medicines in the evening or at weekends. It is hoped that the scheme will help ease demand for GP services, both routine and out of hours, and also help hospital emergency departments.

The initiative is being backed with a £750,000 investment in a community pharmacy IT platform to support the scheme and allow pharmacies to be more fully integrated with GPs and hospitals. The funding is part of the Welsh Governments’ Efficiency Through Technology Fund.

It means:

  • community pharmacies will be able to access patients’ GP record or their Individual Health Record (IHR) with consent, enabling consistent sharing of patient information “to deliver seamless and safer patient care”;
  • community pharmacies will be able to electronically record a consultation with a patient with common ailments, includes the selection and supply of a treatment from a list of medicines, and the information will then available to other pharmacies throughout Wales to support clinical care;
  • electronic discharge information can be transferred from hospitals to a patient’s nominated community pharmacy and for the pharmacy to undertake an electronic discharge medicines review
  • community pharmacists can provide an out-of-hours service for emergency medicines supply of exiting prescriptions.

The Choose Pharmacy scheme was piloted in 19 pharmacies in the Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board area and 13 in the Cwm Taf University Health Board area.

Deputy Health Minister Vaughan Gething said health boards will start commissioning the Choose Pharmacy service from later this year. “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.

“Giving pharmacists access to patients’ summary medical records will significantly reduce the number of people who need to be referred to GP, out-of-hours services and A&E departments and will deliver considerable improvements in patient safety.”

Community Pharmacy Wales has welcomed the announcement. Russell Goodway, Chief Executive at CPW, said “The announcement today paves the way for the transformation of the Wales based community pharmacies into a network of health centres located in every community in Wales utilising the clinical expertise of highly trained pharmacists who are amongst the most qualified health professionals working for the NHS.

“The entire Wales-based community pharmacy network will be delighted to learn that Welsh Government has decided that community pharmacy should become the first port call for patients suffering from common ailments and self-limiting conditions as means of easing pressure on GP surgeries.”

He added that patients “can be reassured that should the pharmacist feel that patients need to be seen by a doctor or an optician or even attend hospital then they will be advised to do so and signposted to the most appropriate clinician.”

CPW is working with the Welsh Government, the NHS Wales Informatics Service (NWIS) and the Health Boards “to do what is necessary to secure the earliest possible roll out of these services to all 716 community pharmacies in Wales.”

Links:

Welsh Government announcement

CPW statement

Practice News

July 31 2018 General practices employing pharmacists are citing improved capacity to see patients and workload changes as the main benefits of the scheme.
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