Common ailments consultations up 177pc in North Wales
Community pharmacies in North Wales saw a 177 per cent increase in Common Ailments Service consultations in December 2022 compared to the same period in 2021, new figures show.
Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board (BCUHB) published a statement on January 27 show that 6,278 people benefited from the Common Ailments Scheme in December, availing of free advice and treatment for common conditions that cannot be treated using self care.
December also saw a 345 per cent increase in people seeking emergency medicines, with 3,229 consultations completed, as well as a 300 per cent rise in independent prescribing consultations with 1,799 people
“The [independent prescribing] service, available in an ever-growing number of community pharmacies enables people to receive an assessment and prescribed medication for minor illnesses – usually the same day, often without the need for an appointment,” said the health board.
It added: “The record demand on health services was so great that it led to a UK-wide shortage of antibiotics, although stock levels have now improved.”
NHS leaders thanked the people of North Wales for “choosing the most appropriate ways to access care, protecting a health service which has been at ‘breaking point’ in recent weeks”.
Gwynedd pharmacist Llyr Hughes said: “There’s a growing appreciation amongst the public of the high quality services that community pharmacies can deliver, as evidenced by these statistics.
“This is freeing up capacity in the health service from people who would otherwise have called their GP or even ended up attending the emergency department.
“Betsi Health Board has been some of the trailblazers for developing and expanding the acute services offered in community pharmacies and we know this is making a difference to the NHS during this very challenging time.
“Community pharmacy colleagues have been working at maximum capacity and while it has been exhausting, it is also very rewarding as we know that patients really value the service we provide.”
BCUHB primary care director Karen Higgins added: “This remains an exceptionally challenging time for colleagues across our health services, particularly in primary care.
“We’re hugely grateful for the continued efforts being made by staff in pharmacies and GP surgeries in such difficult circumstances.
“We also owe a huge debt of gratitude to the North Wales public for choosing the most appropriate NHS services during this very challenging period.
“In particular, its very pleasing that more people with minor illnesses or conditions are taking advantage of the free, expert advice provided at their local community pharmacy, which can usually be accessed more quickly than other services.
“This has helped to reduce unnecessary attendances at our Emergency Departments, which have been at breaking point at times in recent weeks.
“We are urging members of the public who need help to visit the NHS Wales 111 website in the first instance to be advised about the most appropriate service, which might be self-care at home, a visit to the pharmacy, a GP appointment, a Minor Injuries Unit, or, in life threatening circumstances, the hospital Emergency Department.”