Recent surveys show that nationally 57 million GP appointments, and up to a third of A&E attendances each year are used by people with common health complaints. These are problems which could be dealt with in the community pharmacy.

A new scheme launched in Airedale, Wharfedale and Craven will now help people make the right choices when it comes to their health – meaning they will be able to access the right care faster.

Pharmacy First is a service funded by NHS Airedale, Wharfedale and Craven Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) which will provide local people with rapid access to a pharmacist who can give advice and support.

Where necessary, the pharmacist can also supply medicines without the need for a doctor’s appointment.

Pharmacist Lee TappingPharmacist Lee Tapping, of Boots, Ingrow said: “I’m really pleased to be able to offer my local community the new Pharmacy First service. Pharmacies are perfectly placed on the high street to offer healthcare advice and support to all members of the public with no need to book an appointment. Many of the issues raised to GPs can be dealt with in the community pharmacy setting, easing the pressure on GPs and an already over-stretched NHS hospital system.

The Pharmacy First service uses the skills and knowledge of pharmacists to help patients better look after themselves.”

The scheme will relieve pressure on GPs’ appointment schedules meaning that patients with more urgent or serious needs can see their doctor sooner.

Common ailments covered by the scheme are:

Athlete’s foot

Blocked nose

Cold

Cough

Earache

Fever

Hay fever

Sore throat

Sprains and strains

Teething

Threadworms

Thrush

These are all conditions that can often be treated without the need to see a GP. Most pharmacies have consultation rooms for people to speak to the pharmacist in private.

The service is available at pharmacies throughout Airedale, Wharfedale and Craven and is available to anyone who is registered at GP practice in those areas. For those needing treatment who do not pay for their prescriptions, their medicine will be free of charge.

Chair of Airedale, Wharfedale and Craven CCG, Dr Colin Renwick said: “This is a scheme which will allow GPs and A&E units to dedicate time to patients with more serious or life-threatening conditions.

It will also mean that people who have common health issues can go straight to their pharmacy and get the advice and help they need without making a doctor’s appointment. It’s important to remember that pharmacists are qualified healthcare professionals who can help with common health problems. They can advise, treat or refer as necessary.”

People should look out for stickers and posters displayed in the window of participating pharmacies.

More information is available on the CCG website at www.airedalewharfedalecravenccg.nhs.uk