The first port of call for healthcare advice

helping-patientPharmacies across Devon have stepped up in an effort to ease pressures on GP surgeries and A&E Departments.

186 pharmacies across Devon are participating in the ‘Pharmacy First’ scheme, which encourages people to think pharmacy first when suffering from minor ailments such as coughs, skin rashes, eye infections and other common conditions. Consultations and treatment can be provided without needing to make an appointment or visit a GP to get a prescription.

The scheme was initially funded by the Prime Minister’s Challenge Fund – developed to help improve access to general practice surgeries and stimulate innovative ways of providing primary care. The Pharmacy First service has been running since November 2014, and is supported by the Devon Local Pharmaceutical Committee. Since implementation, there has been a steady increase in activity, with more and more people starting to make the most of the services.

In the 16 months to the end of February 2016 a remarkable 17,723 consultations had been completed by pharmacy teams in Devon, Plymouth and Torbay.  These services have reduced demand on GPs and diverted people away from A&E, which shows the difference pharmacists and pharmacy teams can make for individuals when they are working on the NHS front line.

Community pharmacies play a key role in offering support for people close to home. They are often open for longer hours than GP surgeries and provide consultations and treatment without appointment.

Over 75% of people seeking services in Devon said they became aware of the ‘Pharmacy First’ initiative though the promotional work of their local pharmacies. The service is currently being commissioned and funded by NHS England South (South West).

Other ‘Pharmacy First’ and minor ailments schemes across the country have shown similar positive results.

For more details on the Devon service, contact Sue Taylor, Chief Officer, Devon Local Pharmaceutical Committee:

Tel: 01392 834022 Fax: 01392 833336, Mobile: 07810885766