Patients across Rhondda suffering from common ailments can now access free advice and treatment from pharmacies without having to make an appointment with a GP.

The new Common Ailments Service allows pharmacists to assess and treat NHS patients for up to 26 conditions, including sore throats, thrush, threadworm, warts, head lice, constipation and indigestion.

Pharmacists will give advice, and supply medicines from an agreed list, or refer to a GP or other health professional when necessary. Pharmacists will also help patients to self-care for the ailment in future.

Medicines will be given free of charge removing the payment barrier which can prevent patients choosing to see a pharmacist instead of their GP.

The aim is to improve access to services for common ailments, encourage self-care, and free GP time to deal with more complex cases.

A common ailment is a condition that will get better in a few days with little or no medical treatment, or requires treatment to prevent it worsening with medicines readily available from a pharmacy without a prescription. In many cases self-care is the best way to manage common ailments but sometimes NHS advice is needed.

The service is available for the following 26 conditions: acne; athletes foot; acute backache; chickenpox; cold sores; colic; conjunctivitis; constipation; dry skin; diarrhoea; dry eye; haemorrhoids; hay fever; head lice; indigestion/reflux; in growing toenail; intertrigo/ringworm; mouth ulcers; nappy rash; oral thrush; scabies; sore throat; teething; threadworm; vaginal thrush; verruca.

‘I am extremely happy with how I was treated.’

Patient Kay English from Treherbert used the service at Sheppards pharmacy at Forest View when she had a problem with dry skin. She obtained a private consultation at the pharmacy in less time than booking a GP appointment.

“The consultation took just a short time but I believe saved me considerable time. Should the problem return, I now know which cream to ask for,” Mrs English said.

“I am extremely happy with how I was treated and have recommended the service to family and friends.”

Dr Gwydion Wyn, a GP in Porth, said: “This scheme is an exciting development in delivering healthcare to our patients.

“We work closely with our pharmacy colleagues who are experienced professionals with an expertise in dealing effectively with common ailments. This scheme will allow patients to see a professional in a timely manner for common ailments and receive appropriate treatment.

“This will also give GPs more time to deal with the more complex chronic disease cases.”

Dai Williams has been a pharmacist in Rhondda for more than 30 years. He was nicknamed ‘Dai Chem’ in Ferndale where he started work in 1985, and has been at the Central Pharmacy in Pentre for the last nine years.

He said: “This service is the single most important that has been rolled out in pharmacies ever. The benefit to the patient is that this is a drop-in service, they will see a health professional that day for advice or treatment, and won’t have to book an appointment with a GP.”

Gareth Hughes, professional service manager for Sheppards and pharmacist in Ynyshir, said: “So far we have had really positive feedback from patients. They like the flexibility and convenience of appointments, the access to products and the advice that they receive from the pharmacist.”

Suzanne Scott-Thomas, Cwm Taf chief pharmacist, said: “The new scheme allows people needing NHS support to manage common ailments to get good advice and, if appropriate, treatment, on the NHS without needing to visit their GP. At a time of increased pressures within healthcare it is very important that we visit our GP practices and hospitals only when necessary.”

Welsh Government figures show up to 18% of a GP’s time has been taken up dealing with patients suffering from common ailments.

Photo: Pharmacists Dai Williams and Adam Jenkins at Central Pharmacy. Pentre.

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