People who live in Gloucester City are being encouraged to visit their local pharmacy for expert advice and treatment on common, less serious conditions, as part of a new Pharmacy First Minor Ailments Scheme.

This new service is currently being offered by community pharmacies in Gloucester City (if people use and like the service, it could be rolled out to other parts of the county).

It means that people can get advice, medicines and other appropriate treatment on common illnesses such as flu-like symptoms, allergic rashes and headaches by simply going to a pharmacy at a time that suits them. Pharmacists can also provide treatment for babies and children for certain common conditions such as nappy rash, colic and teething.

Anything that people want to discuss will be completely confidential, and pharmacies can offer a private area to talk about symptoms.

Dr Bob Hodges, Chair of NHS Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group’s (CCG) Gloucester City Locality Executive, said:

“The Pharmacy First Minor Ailments Scheme gives patients easier, more convenient access to expert advice from a pharmacist. It highlights the fact that pharmacies are a great first port of call for people to get information and treatment for many minor, common ailments.

They will often get the medicines they need straight away, either free of cost, or at a lower cost than standard prescriptions. It is safe, because if the pharmacist decides that someone needs to see their GP, they will refer that person back to their GP surgery.

By raising the profile of this scheme, the result should be that GPs will have more time available to spend with patients who have more serious illnesses.”

Dr Charles Buckley, GP in Stroud and Pharmacy Lead with the CCG said:

“Visiting a pharmacy is often a quick and very effective way to resolve questions about medicines or obtain treatment or advice for less serious conditions. It also means that many patients can have their healthcare needs taken care of quickly, without having to use other services like GP surgeries and A&E departments.

Pharmacists are highly trained professionals and are experts in medicines and their use: they are an important part of the NHS family.

Visiting your pharmacist to discuss issues around medicines and minor illnesses will get you an expert opinion and valuable advice – please make good use of them.”

Patients who don’t normally pay for NHS prescriptions will receive medicines under the Pharmacy First scheme free of charge. For those who do pay for prescriptions, it is likely that purchasing medicines from the pharmacy will be less expensive than the prescription charge. Your pharmacist will advise.