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Community pharmacists to offer consultations and advice for minor winter ailments


92% of people who used the Pharmacy First service last winter say they felt more confident about managing their cold, sore throat or flu-like illness after speaking to their community pharmacist.

The Pharmacy First service is a winter initiative by the health service which enables patients to have a consultation in a private area with their local community pharmacist for advice and treatment for common ailments.

Last winter, over 21,000 consultations were offered to patients with 50% of users saying they would have contacted their GP or Out of Hours if this service wasn’t available. 64% of GPs also reported that the service had a beneficial impact on their workload.

This winter, the service will be available from participating community pharmacies from 1st November 2019 until 31st March 2020.  All patients registered with a GP in Northern can use this service, with the exception of temporary residents and patients living in nursing or residential homes.

Joe Brogan, Head of Pharmacy, Health and Social Care Board said, “Community pharmacists have an important role to play as the ‘local medicines expert’ and this service will reinforce that role. We encourage the public, when they have a winter ailment and are considering going to their GP – to think Pharmacy First. Community pharmacists will use their skills and expertise to provide advice and treatment for a range of common conditions. This will help support GP practices, GP out-of-hours services and Emergency Departments over the coming months when winter ailments occur more frequently.”

Gerard Greene, Chief Executive, Community Pharmacy NI said, “A visit to a community pharmacy gives patients the opportunity to have a face to face consultation with a health professional at a time and location close to home, without the need for an appointment. Community pharmacists are clinically trained and can offer advice and if necessary, provide treatment to help patients ease and manage their symptoms.  With the seasonal rise in demand for healthcare services fast approaching, the Pharmacy First service enables the patient to get the right treatment, at the right time and at the right place.”