Increased availability of community pharmacy services is improving access to primary care
Increased availability of community pharmacy services has meant hundreds of thousands of people haven’t needed GP consultations, Health Minister Eluned Morgan has announced.
Substantial reforms introduced in April 2022, mean a wider than ever range of clinical services are being offered by community pharmacists in Wales.
Today, a new report – ‘Presgripsiwn Newydd – A New Prescription – One year on’ – has highlighted the beneficial impact of those services for people needing to access primary care.
Free advice and treatment
Almost all pharmacies across Wales now provide free advice and treatment for common ailments, access to the morning after pill and oral contraception, emergency supplies of medicines, and influenza vaccinations, through the new Clinical Community Pharmacy Service (CCPS).
The report shows more than half a million consultations took place across all CCPS services in the first year following its launch. This included nearly 240,000 consultations for a range of common ailments such as sore throats, allergic reactions and back pain – an increase of 73.9% on the year before and more than a fivefold increase from five years ago, and more than 160,000 NHS seasonal flu vaccinations.
Almost 80% of people who visited a pharmacy and used the CCPS reported they would have visited a GP or out of hours service if it was not available, freeing up over 400K appointments for others to see their GP.
For many people this means access to care closer to where they live and work, usually without the need for an appointment. More than 2,800 pharmacists and pharmacy technicians have completed the additional training which allows them to provide these services.
A further 46,000 consultations took place in 119 pharmacies, with a pharmacist prescriber who had undertaken additional training enabling them to treat a wider range of illnesses such as urinary tract, ear and skin infections which otherwise could only be treated by a GP.
Minister for Health and Social Services, Eluned Morgan said: “In the first year following our reforms, significant progress has been made to utilise the skills, expertise and accessibility of pharmacists in our communities more effectively.
“This is providing a stronger focus on clinical service provision, on workforce development, and on promoting integration of pharmacies within primary care, all alongside our largest ever investment in the sector.
“I am delighted to see it is helping to ensure more people in Wales have access to the NHS care they need from appropriately skilled professionals, closer to home, whenever they need it.”
Chief Pharmaceutical Officer, Andrew Evans said: “Pharmacists are experts in medicines and undergo extensive training to provide clinical care including giving advice and treatment for common conditions, contraception and vaccinations.
“Our community pharmacy reforms are not only improving access to care but also ensuring we fully utilise the clinical skills and expertise of pharmacists and pharmacy technicians in every part of Wales.
“The support we are providing means more pharmacists than ever are completing additional training so they can prescribe medicines for people reducing further still the number of people who need to visit their GP.
“For most people, their community pharmacy will be the most accessible source of trusted advice and treatment when they feel unwell. Enabling pharmacists to provide an extended range of NHS clinical services means more people in Wales can access the care they need, from their pharmacy, when they need it.”
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