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Pharmacies in Wales to help GPs prescribe medicines to patients

Nearly a third of community pharmacies in Wales should be able to prescribe medicines for NHS patients, including antibiotics, by the end of this year, health officials say.

It is the first new service of its kind in the UK. The aim is to take the pressure off GPs at a time of increasing strain on the NHS.

Scotland has adopted a similar approach but England and Northern Ireland have not so far.

Community pharmacies in Wales are allowed to offer prescriptions of medicines for acute illnesses such as urinary tract and respiratory infections, gout and chronic pain, as well as emergency contraception - if they have a pharmacist who has had extra training for prescribing.

For most patients, that will be more convenient and avoid waits for GP appointments.

The plan is to roll out the service progressively across Wales, building on local schemes already in place.

Local doctors in general practice have welcomed the new policy.

Dr Penny Coyle said each week about 25 patients with minor ailments were referred to the pharmacist, saving 100 GP appointments a month and giving doctors more time to visit seriously ill patients in their homes.

"We are finding that demand is outweighing capacity and so anything that relieves some of the pressure on general practice is very welcome," she said.

Association of Independent Multiple Pharmacies chief executive Dr Leyla Hannbeck said: "Pharmacist prescribers can help massively when you think about the shortages and the HRT issues, for example, that we are currently facing - having a pharmacist prescriber being able to prescribe alternative medicines without the patient having to wait to see the GP." 

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Source: BBC News, 27 April 2022


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