A North Wales health board has announced that the number of pharmacies offering prescribing services in the area is to increase by more than double over the winter months.
Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board said on Thursday November 11 that the number of pharmacies providing an NHS independent prescriber service is increasing from 11 to 25 to help primary care services prepare for intense winter pressures.
As of November 11, the service was available in pharmacies on the Ll?n Peninsula, and in Blaenau Ffestiniog, Mold, Corwen, Coedpoeth, Colwyn Bay and Prestatyn.
The increase will see the scheme extended to all six counties in North Wales and available in roughly 15 per cent of pharmacies in the area, with trained pharmacists able to prescribe treatment for minor acute conditions, medicines withdrawal and contraception.
The Welsh Government has said it wants every community pharmacy in the country to have an independent prescriber by 2030.
Adam Mackridge, strategic lead for community pharmacy at the health board, said: “We’re encouraging more people with minor illnesses or conditions to take advantage of the free, expert advice provided at their local community pharmacy, which can usually be accessed more quickly than other services.
“Pharmacists are highly skilled clinical experts and they are supported by a team of pharmacy technicians and other staff who have also undergone comprehensive training.
“All pharmacies providing these services have private consultation rooms where you will be able to discuss minor ailments confidentially, in the same way you would with your GP.
“As the training to become an independent prescribing pharmacist takes quite a lot of time, rollout will take time, but new pharmacies will begin providing this service year on year, helping to increase choice and provide better access for patients.”
Anglesey pharmacist Jenny White’s pharmacy will be among those offering the service once she qualifies in the coming weeks. She commented: “The benefit of community pharmacy is that people can access healthcare pretty much instantly.
“My customers are able to ring in or pop in and book an appointment on the same day, most of the time.
“The additional benefit with the independent prescribing service is that people will soon be able to come and see me for their minor acute conditions and I’ll be able to make a full assessment, diagnosis, treatment plan and prescribe medication, if appropriate.
“They won’t have to ring their doctor’s surgery, wait for an appointment or go through a telephone consultation triage. If things are more complex we have robust referral systems in place to make sure people get the care they need.
“I’m utilising the skills I already have and I’ve developed them further to be able to offer services that are needed in the village.”