Pharmacies To Offer Advice On Minor Winter Ailments

Community pharmacies across Northern Ireland are to offer consultations and advice on minor ailments throughout the coming winter.

The winter initiative known as Pharmacy First will enable patients to have a consultation in a private area with their local community pharmacist for advice and treatment for common ailments.

It's hoped the scheme will take pressure of local GP services and Emergency Departments by encouraging patients to visit their local pharmacy first.

Last winter, over 21,000 consultations were offered to patients with 50% of users saying they would have contacted their GP or Out of Hours if this service wasn't available. 64% of GPs also reported that the service had a beneficial impact on their workload.

Some 92% of those who used the service last winter said they felt more confident about managing their cold, sore throat or flu-like illness after speaking to a professional at their local pharmacy.

The service opened on 01 November and will run until 31 March 2020 for all patients registered with a GP in Northern Ireland, except temporary residents and patients living in nursing or residential homes.
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Joe Brogan, Head of Pharmacy at the Health and Social Care Board said: "Community pharmacists have an important role to play as the 'local medicines expert' and this service will reinforce that role. We encourage the public, when they have a winter ailment and are considering going to their GP – to think Pharmacy First. Community pharmacists will use their skills and expertise to provide advice and treatment for a range of common conditions. This will help support GP practices, GP out-of-hours services and Emergency Departments over the coming months when winter ailments occur more frequently."

Gerard Greene, Chief Executive, Community Pharmacy NI added: "A visit to a community pharmacy gives patients the opportunity to have a face to face consultation with a health professional at a time and location close to home, without the need for an appointment. Community pharmacists are clinically trained and can offer advice and if necessary, provide treatment to help patients ease and manage their symptoms. With the seasonal rise in demand for healthcare services fast approaching, the Pharmacy First service enables the patient to get the right treatment, at the right time and at the right place."


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