Pharmacists signing up minor ailments patients

Around 39,000 patients in the Forth Valley have signed up to receive health advice from pharmacists rather than GPs.

The minor ailments service is part of a new Scotland-only contract giving pharmacists a bigger role in healthcare.

This extra income could make pharmacies even more viable in rural areas, causing further worry for remote dispensing practices, warned Dr Andrew Buist, deputy chairman of the Scottish GPC.

Earlier this month, GP reported how pharmacies were opening without public consultation in Scotland, threatening practices that relied on income from dispensing (2 November).

The minor ailments service is only available to patients exempt from prescription charges who can receive treatment for minor illnesses free of charge.

The pharmacist will assess patients, offer advice and, if needed, provide certain medicines and treatments at no cost, usually eliminating the need to see a GP. If necessary, patients will be referred to a doctor.

A spokesman for NHS Forth Valley said it would not be taking patients away from GP practices: 'Patients will sign up for health advice with a pharmacy but can still register with a GP. It's mostly for people on benefits with minor ailments.'

Dr Buist said that it was too early to say whether it would adversely affect GP funding but that rural dispensing doctors could be affected.

'There is a concern it might make pharmacies more viable in rural areas where practices rely on income from dispensing,' he commented.

GPs have expressed concern that pharmacists could miss symptoms of more serious illness and may base health advice on selling products.

However, Dr Buist believed it did not pose a risk to patients: 'As long as they work within their professional limitations and recognise when to pass on patients there shouldn't be a problem.'

Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins


Already registered?

Sign in

Just published

BMA Scotland GP committee chair Dr Andrew Buist

General practice in Scotland 'in serious trouble', warns BMA Scotland GP chair

General practice in Scotland has reached a tipping point, with demand far outstripping...

Hospital entrance

NHS England issues warning over norovirus and rising winter pressures

Almost three times as many people were in hospital with norovirus last week compared...

BMA Northern Ireland GP committee chair Dr Alan Stout

Northern Ireland GPs face deepest-ever crisis as practices hand back contracts

Northern Ireland's GP leader has warned that general practice in the region is facing...

GP consulting room

GP appointments hit record high of over 34m in October

GP practices delivered a record 34.3m appointments in October this year excluding...

GP consultation

New contract that enforces continuity would make GPs and patients safer, says watchdog

A new GP contract that makes continuity of care an 'essential requirement' for practices...

GP receptionist on the phone

Some practices to receive funding to upgrade digital phone systems

GP practices whose digital phone systems do not meet new NHS England standards will...