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Thousands of people in the Highlands miss out

Issued: 24 Jul 2008

Thousands of people in the Highlands are missing out on an NHS service provided by community pharmacies.

Known as the 'Minor Ailment Service', it enables people to get fast access to advice and treatment for illnesses such as hay fever, pain, constipation and head lice.

The service is available to anyone who is exempt from prescription charges; advice and treatment are provided free of charge.

However, latest figures show that only 8% of the population is registered for the Minor Ailment Service across NHS Highland; an estimated 40% or 123,000 people are missing out.

The service allows people to use pharmacists as a first port of call for minor symptoms. The pharmacist will give advice or treatment, or refer the patient to their doctor. But for most minor conditions, the pharmacist can provide immediate help which saves patients waiting for a doctor's appointment.

Mary Morton is Head of Community Pharmaceutical Services for NHS Highland. She said: "Community Pharmacies are based in the heart of communities and are the most accessed and accessible health service in Scotland. The training that pharmacists undertake makes them ideally suited to provide advice and treatment for minor illnesses. The Minor Ailment Service allows patients to be treated on the NHS without the need to travel to their GP practice."

Kevin Fyfe is a community pharmacist at Rowlands on Grant Street, Inverness. He said: "Customers who are eligible really like this service and give us very positive feedback. It's another opportunity for me to speak to them and offer health advice."

He added: "The majority of people who use the service are mums with young children who don't want to have to wait in a GP surgery whilst their child is unwell. However, if they can just nip in here, let me see the child and make an assessment then it's far more convenient for them. We also get a lot of elderly patients who don't want to 'bother' the doctor but would like some advice from a professional to put their mind at rest."

The Minor Ailment Service is provided by all community pharmacies in Scotland as part of their contract with the NHS. Even people who usually get their medicines from a dispensing doctor can use it. People who are eligible to register for the service should ask for information in any community pharmacy.

© 2010 Highland Public Services Partnership.
Project part-financed by the European Union (European Regional Development Fund) within the INTERREG IIIB Northern Periphery Programme