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Minor ailments training for Welsh pharmacists could ‘free up GP time’

by Costanza Pearce
29 May 2019

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New minor ailments training for pharmacists is set to ‘free up GP time’, the Welsh Government announced last week (23 May).
A £100,000 investment will see 50 pharmacists across the country receive specialist training in triaging and treating minor ailments such as chicken pox, conjunctivitis, sore throats, acute backache and acute dermatitis.
This will relieve the ‘growing pressure’ on primary care services and ‘free up GP time to manage more complex patient cases’, the Government said.
An estimated 13% of GP consultations in the UK are for acute minor ailments that ‘could have been managed by pharmacists’ but clinical assessment skills for treating them are not traditionally included in initial pharmacy training, the Government added.
The structured training programme, delivered by Health Education and Improvement Wales, will be open to practice pharmacists as well as community pharmacists and their colleagues at NHS 111.
‘The right person at the right time’
Speaking at the Welsh Pharmacy Conference last week (23 May), health minister Vaughan Gething said: ‘This focussed training on minor ailments will directly benefit patients by freeing up GP time.’
He added that the scheme would prepare the Welsh pharmacy workforce to deliver A Healthier Wales, the Welsh Government’s long-term plan for health and social care services.
In April, the Government announced it would invest £3.6m in 2020/21 in a multi-sector pharmacy training programme, rising to an additional £4.9m by 2023/24.
This investment is set to almost double the number of training places in Wales by August 2023 and aims to reduce the burden on GPs by preparing pharmacists to provide advice and treatment.
Chief pharmaceutical officer for Wales Andrew Evans said: ‘It is important that we continue to respond to the changing needs both of the people of Wales and our healthcare system.
‘Seeing the right person, at the right time, to help them to say fit and well, lies at the heart of that.’
In England, community pharmacists will increasingly deliver minor ailments services within primary care networks (PCNs).
NHS England outlined in May that community pharmacy ‘will focus more on its clinical role managing the minor illness aspects of urgent care and supporting patients to prevent ill health’, as well as medicines optimisation.
A version of this article was first published by our sister publication The Pharmacist.