People in Plymouth can get prescription medicine for a range of minor illnesses straight from a pharmacy, without the need to visit a doctor.
Under the Pharmacy First scheme, trained pharmacists in participating branches can give out medication which normally has to be prescribed by a GP for the following conditions:
• Urinary Tract Infections (UTI) for women aged 18-64
• Nappy rash
• Conjunctivitis for one-year-olds
The scheme aims to make the most of pharmacists’ expertise and give local people a fast alternative to visiting the doctor, especially during the busy winter period.
Tom Kallis, a community pharmacist in Devon and project lead for Devon Local Pharmaceutical Committee, said: “This is a great service as it offers anyone with one of these illnesses a fast route to treatment – you usually don’t need to make an appointment and you shouldn’t have to wait long.
“Nationally, about 18% of GP appointments could have been treated at a pharmacy. We know GP practices are very busy in winter and so this is about providing a convenient alternative.
“The service is generally for uncomplicated cases and the pharmacist will go through a series of questions with the patient in private. If the pharmacist finds ‘red flag’ symptoms they will refer the patient to their GP to get it checked out.
“It’s about making the most of the fact that a community pharmacist is a highly skilled clinician.”
Only specially trained pharmacists offer the service – if you want to check it’s available at your local community pharmacist, phone ahead and ask about Pharmacy First services.
Prescription charges, with normal exemptions, are payable.
It is hoped the service will be expanded to further ailments in future.