DoH to expand pharmacist role in minor ailment care

Ministers say GPs' time is being wasted on minor complaints.

The DoH is looking to expand the number of pharmacies providing treatment for minor ailments, according to health minister Ben Bradshaw.

Giving evidence to the All Party Parliamentary Group, Mr Bradshaw said GPs treating all minor ailments was 'not the best way'.

Around 25 per cent of PCTs have contracts to allow other health professionals to treat minor ailments, but uptake had 'not been rapid enough', said Mr Bradshaw.

'There's a tendency for GPs to want be in charge and decide on behalf of their patients,' he said. 'We want patients to be able to decide.'

NHS director general Mark Britnell said the upcoming pharmacy White Paper, due to be published later this year, would look specifically at treating less serious illnesses in community pharmacies.

The DoH plans to look into pharmacists treating conditions such as dermatitis without additional training, he added.

DoH primary care czar Dr David Colin-Thome, has suggested each GP's workload could be reduced by up to 16 consultations a day if patients with minor ailments were treated elsewhere.

But GPC deputy chairman Dr Richard Vautrey said even robust minor illness schemes have made little difference to GP workload.

'We need to be careful that this is done in a sensible way, not just done to save money,' he added. 'Some apparently minor symptoms can be due to complex conditions.'

tom.ireland@haymarket.com

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