A third of pharmacies in Wales should be able to offer an extended range of prescribing services by the end of this year, the Welsh Government has confirmed.

This comes as part of widespread changes to the pharmacy contract, announced in December 2021, enabling all pharmacies in Wales to provide a national independent prescribing service.

From this month (April), 92 of Wales’s 714 pharmacies have begun offering the new prescribing service, which involves treatments for common minor ailments, access to repeat medicines in an emergency, annual flu vaccinations, and emergency contraception.

It is hoped that by the end of this year, one in three pharmacies in the country will be providing the independent prescribing service, where a suitably qualified and competent pharmacist independent prescriber is available, the Welsh Government has said.

The service, which was introduced this month, aims to provide more consistent access to care for patients across Wales and reduce GP workload.

Commenting on the number of pharmacies that have already begun offering the service, Andrew Evans, chief pharmaceutical officer for Wales, said: ‘By using appropriately trained pharmacists to treat a range of illnesses we can relieve pressure on other primary care services.

‘Seeing a pharmacist for a range of common clinical conditions makes the best use of the skills of pharmacists and means better access to patients,’ he explained.

A Welsh Government spokesperson added: ‘Enabling community pharmacists to treat a wider range of ailments will free up GP time and improve access to appointments for those people whose needs can only be met by their doctor.

‘Wales is the first part of the UK to enable prescribing services to be provided from all community pharmacies where they employ a suitably trained prescribing pharmacist and to allow pharmacists to prescribe, both for a range of extended minor ailments and routine contraception, as well as for other conditions agreed with local health boards,’ they said.

The Government will also invest an additional £19m per year into the independent prescribing services from this month, increasing from £1.2m to £20.2m per year.

Initially, pharmacist prescribers will be able to prescribe medicines for acute illnesses like urinary tract and upper respiratory tract infections and prescribe routine contraception.

In 2018, RPS Wales and the Government published Pharmacy: Delivering a Healthier Wales, in which they outlined plans for an independent prescriber in every community pharmacy by 2030.