£2.1m boost to deal with winter ailments

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The local health trust is to invest £2.1m for community pharmacists to offer consultations and advice for minor winter ailments

The new Pharmacy First service has been launched in this winter, which will enable patients to have a consultation in a private area with their community pharmacist for advice and treatment for sore throats, colds and flu-like illness.

The service will be available from participating community pharmacies from 1st December 2018 until 31st March 2019 and represents a £2.1m investment in pharmacy services from the Department of Health as part of the transformation of health services.

Joe Brogan, Head of Pharmacy, Health and Social Care Board said: “Community pharmacists have an important role to play as the ‘high street medicines expert’ and this service will reinforce that role.

“We encourage the public, when they have a winter ailment and they are considering using their GP services – to think Pharmacy First. This new service will utilise the skills and expertise of the community pharmacist to provide advice and treatment for a range of common conditions to support self-care. This will help support GP practices, GP out-of-hours services and Emergency Departments over the coming months when winter ailments occur more frequently.”

Research from the Proprietary Association of Great Britain (PAGB) shows that up to 40% of GP time is taken dealing with patients suffering from common conditions.

All patients registered with a GP in Northern Ireland are eligible to avail of this service, with the exception of temporary residents and patients living in nursing or residential homes.