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Minor ailments service: ‘It boosts the credibility of pharmacists with the public’


By Saša Janković

16 Feb 2021

Claire Field, pharmacist and IP at Carbis Bay Pharmacy in Cornwall, talks to Saša Janković about being part of the Kernow Minor Ailments Scheme.

Service type: Kernow Minor Ailments Scheme.

Name of pharmacy: Carbis Bay Pharmacy, Cornwall.

Name of pharmacist: Claire Field.

Why did you start offering this service?

We have been part of the Kernow Minor Ailments Scheme (MAS) for a long time – around seven years. We got involved as soon as the scheme started, because we feel it is part of a pharmacist’s skillset to provide this kind of service so why wouldn’t we be part of it. Also, being in Cornwall means we have an influx of holiday makers, which when they are ill puts added pressure on our local GPs, and yet these minor conditions are things that can be very easily treated in pharmacy. Admittedly, that’s changed a lot this year since GP surgeries have switched to doing online consultations, but we are finding that a lot of customers still don’t know that’s an option, or that they can then choose to have their prescriptions sent directly here.

How much did it cost to set up the service?

There wasn’t a cost to us, apart from my time to train up to be able to sign the PGD. The cost of the actual consultation and any medicines is covered by NHS Kernow CCG.

What, if any, training did you or other team members have to undergo?

I had training to sign the PGD, specific for what I was supplying. This was initially face-to-face, and then latterly any further training has been through the CPPE minor ailments package.

In a nutshell, what does the service involve?

We have four PGDs under our MAS at the moment:

  • Chloramphenicol antibiotic eye drops for conjunctivitis – but specifically for children over 1 year and under 2 years
  • Fusidic acid cream to treat impetigo
  • Timodine cream for infected nappy rash
  • and one for UTIs, specifically for women aged 16-25, based on referrals from their GP.

Encouraging the public to come in and use the service can be a challenge. We do promote it on our Facebook page, but what we find happening more often is that we have customers coming in for opportunistic advice about one of these conditions, at which point we realise they fall under the terms of the MAS.

Are there any opportunities to sell over the counter or prescription products during the consultation or after it?

During a consultation I’ll often find it turns out that the customer’s symptoms are too mild to fit the criteria under the MAS, but that they can be treated with something available over the counter as an alternative. Also, through talking to the customer other things come up that we can help with – for example, with nappy rash maybe what they’ve been doing in the past wasn’t the best option for their baby so we’ll talk about how they can make some simple alterations to their changing routine in order to prevent it happening again in future.

How have patients responded to the service?

Plenty of people tell us it’s a big relief to be able to get these conditions treated so quickly and easily, especially the holidaymakers. Even our regular local customers are surprised when they realise we are able to offer this kind of service. These kinds of minor ailments can really spoil a holiday, so people are really happy that we can help sort them out.

Roughly, how often each month do you carry out the service?

We only do about three or four of these a month in our pharmacy, but it is a CCG-wide scheme and I know some in Cornwall are providing 20 a month. It really varies, depending on location and time of year. For example, this August there were 295 interventions carried out across Cornwall, which is a lot if you think of how many GP appointments or 111 calls that has avoided.

How much do you charge for the service?

The only charge to the customer is if something is dispensed and they have to pay for their prescriptions.

Roughly, how much a month do you make from offering the service?

Not a lot really. The fee to us is about £10 for each.

Would you recommend offering this service to other contractors?

Yes. So often as a pharmacist people come in for our help and it can be a little frustrating. You know exactly what is going on and how you can treat it, but you have to refer them anyway. For me, being able to offer a service like this one enables me to do so much more than simply filling prescriptions, and boosts the credibility of pharmacists with the public once they realise we are not just in the back counting pills.

Read more case studies on minor ailments services.


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