Patients in Fylde and Wyre Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) will now be able to get health advice for mild ailments from a pharmacist in an effort to free up GP time.
Patients with illnesses like ear infections, cystitis and mild fungal infections can visit their local pharmacist under the CCG’s new Pharmacy+Clinic scheme.
Under the scheme, they will offer patients a confidential consultation to talk through their symptoms and medications they are taking, before giving healthcare advice and medication where appropriate.
Some 15 pharmacies in Freckleton, Poulton, Thornton, Fleetwood, Kirkham, Wesham and St Annes are signed up to the scheme, which is free to use.
People who don’t usually pay for prescriptions will continue to receive free medicine, while those who do will pay the normal prescription fee.
Any patient registered with a GP in Fylde and Wyre can use the scheme, including children under the age of 16 years who should have a parent, guardian or carer with them.
Dr Adam Janjua, Fleetwood GP and vice chair of NHS Fylde and Wyre CCG, said: “The scheme has been designed to help local people get the most appropriate health advice and medication quickly and conveniently for minor health problems. The demands on general practices are continuing to increase due to a rising population and people living longer but with more complex health conditions.
“I am really pleased to see more pharmacies across Fylde and Wyre signing up to the scheme, making it easier for more people to take advantage of the service.
“If everybody went to a pharmacist with minor health problems, GPs would have more time to deal with patients who have more serious and complicated illnesses. This should make it easier to get a convenient appointment with your GP next time you need one.”
NHS Grampian in Scotland rolled out a similar scheme, encouraging women to see pharmacists for urinary tract infections rather than their GP.
The initiative in Scotland was expected to free up as many as 25,000 appointments per year.