AN AM has welcomed moves to put health on the high street and ease pressure on GPs and hospitals.
Neath AM Jeremy Miles visited Neath Pharmacy ahead of the Choose Pharmacy roll-out. The scheme will see investment in integrating community pharmacies with GPs and hospitals. The service will provide pharmacists with access to people’s individual health records and help discharge information to be transferred from hospitals to a patient’s nominated community pharmacy.
The support for pharmacies by the Welsh Labour Government is in sharp contrast to the UK Conservative Government’s plans to cut the funding available to community pharmacies in England from 1 December 2016. The cuts amount to a reduction of four pent to the sector in England in 2016-17 and over seven per cent in 2017-18.
In Wales, there will be no funding cut but instead the money will be used to enable pharmacists to take responsibility for managing a range of minor ailments. People will be able to see their pharmacist for free treatment instead of making an appointment to see their GP. The scheme will help to free up GP time to deal with people with more complex needs. Currently almost a fifth of GPs’ workload and eight per cent of emergency department consultations are estimated to relate to minor ailments, such as coughs, colds, ear ache, hay fever and conjunctivitis.
Jeremy Miles said: “Both the funding commitment in Wales and the Choose Pharmacy platform show the Welsh Government’s commitment to a health on the high street. It makes accessing the appropriate care easier and closer to home for patients, and frees up more time for GPs and hospitals to deal with health issues that only they can deal with.
“But negotiating with pharmacists also could allow some hospital based services, such as hospital discharge medicines, to be obtained closer to home too. Such an approach would be good for the patient, would free up valuable NHS time and beds, and would be cheaper for the NHS too. I asked the Welsh Government about this issue this week and was pleased that ministers are thinking creatively about how health can be accessed better and more cost effectively.”
Community Pharmacy Wales’s Chief Executive Russell Goodway said: “Jeremy Miles is already showing himself to be a real progressive when it comes to championing the role of community pharmacies. By thinking creatively together pharmacists and politicians can make a real difference to how people access health care conveniently and close to home over the next few years.”
Photo- Jeremy Miles AM with Russell Goodway, Chief Executive of Community Pharmacy Wales