PEOPLE are now encouraged to visit their community pharmacy for advice and support to treat minor illnesses or common conditions rather than seeking a GP appointment.
The NHS Pharmacy First initiative was launched across Scotland earlier this week and it is now also available in Shetland.
The service is designed to reduce the workload of GPs but also to prevent people with minor ailments attending Accident & Emergency departments.
Allan Cadenhead, a clinical pharmacist with NHS Shetland, said the initiative was part of a Scottish Government programme to enable everyone to access treatment at their local pharmacy where appropriate.
“It is a service that is meant for minor conditions which wouldn’t necessarily need to be seen by a doctor,” he said.
“These conditions could be for coughs, colds, conjunctivitis or even an antibiotic for a urinary tract infection for women.”
Cadenhead said that if the pharmacist deemed that a problem required input from a GP or another specialist instead, they would make a referral to the GP, or other specialist, like an optician, to advise that the patient needed to be seen.
“Problems can be dealt with without making or waiting for an appointment,” he said.
“With Pharmacy First you can walk in, wait, have your consultation and be done.
“This is not for stocking the home with paracetamol but rather a primary-level clinical intervention that is convenient for the patient and takes pressure off the health centres.”
The service was welcomed by Highlands and Islands MSP Maree Todd, a pharmacist by profession, said the new service ensures the community has access to healthcare for more minor ailments.
“The launch of NHS Pharmacy First Scotland means that people will get the right care and medical support closer to home – often with no waiting time or appointments needed,” she said.
“In recent months, perhaps more than ever, the NHS has been there to protect us – but many of us don’t need to visit A&E to get the care we need.
NHS Shetland said that since the easing of Covid-19 restrictions there has again been an upsurge of patients visiting A&E with non-urgent health problems.
A spokesperson said: “The community is reminded that A&E is for a life-threatening or very serious health emergencies. Minor conditions cannot be treated in A&E.”
More advice on Pharmacy First can be found on the Scottish Government website at https://www.gov.scot/publications/nhs-pharmacy-first-scotland-information-patients/
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