02/11/2005

Pharmacies offer new service to treat winter ailments

Patients suffering from minor ailments, such as colds and sore throats, can now be treated at local pharmacies.

The Minor Ailments service, which is at an advanced pilot stage, has been developed by the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety (DHSSPS) in conjunction with the Health and Social Services Boards, Community Pharmacists and GPs.

As it continues to be rolled out across Northern Ireland, Dr Norman Morrow, Chief Pharmaceutical Officer, DHSSPS, said: "Around this time of year, GP surgeries are required to deal with large numbers of patients suffering from minor winter ailments such as sore throats, headaches, coughs and colds.

"This new scheme will take some pressure off GP practices, allowing Doctors more time to deal with more serious complaints, while offering patients easy access to treatment through their local pharmacy."

Dr Morrow said that the Department was aiming for pharmacies to treat around 30,000 patients across Northern Ireland this winter.

Sinn Féin health spokesperson John O'Dowd welcomed the move. He said: "Winter is a time which inevitably sees greater pressures on the health service in general with increased numbers of patients visiting their GP's and, of course, additional pressures being put on hospitals across the North.

"Hopefully this scheme will go some way to easing the pressures on GP's by allowing doctors more time to deal with those who suffer from more serious complaints, while offering patients the option of easy access to treatment for minor ailments through their local pharmacy."

(MB/SP)

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