If sitting in the doctor’s waiting room is a frustration or you have a simple medical condition that could be dealt with by a pharmacist, then the Minor Ailments Scheme or Pharmacy First Service may be suitable for you. These schemes are operated as a partnership between GP practices and local pharmacies and have been designed to treat simple medical conditions without the need to get a prescription from your doctor, particularly if you would not normally pay for your prescription. Schemes vary slightly from area to area. Patients with certain illnesses are given a special voucher by their doctor's surgery and are then redirected to their regular pharmacy. The pharmacist will have a consultation with the patient and decide if the condition can be treated directly by them. If so, the pharmacist will issue a supply of medication from a list agreed for the scheme without the doctor writing a prescription. If the pharmacist feels the condition is more serious he or she will make a referral back to the GP for a full investigation.
Things to know about Minor Ailments Schemes:
* The scheme is only available from certain participating doctors surgeries and pharmacies – ask your GP’s receptionist, or a member of staff at the pharmacy to find out if your pharmacist and surgery are part of a scheme.
* Usually you will need to obtain a voucher or referral from the GP’s reception to use the scheme at the pharmacy – ask the pharmacist or receptionist how the scheme works where you live.
* Remember pharmacists are often busy so you may have a short wait whilst he or she finishes a prescription.
* Only certain conditions are suitable to be treated under this service e.g. headaches, colds, sore throats, coughs, fever, hay fever, constipation, diarrhoea, mouth ulcers, teething, indigestion, athletes foot, head lice, thrush, bites and stings, certain skin conditions, back pain, sprains, strains and eye conditions. However, this will depend on the arrangements made between your surgery and pharmacy.
* The pharmacist is given a list of products that can be issued – they cannot just give a product of your choice. Find out more next time you visit your GP or pharmacist.