Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group (BNSSG CCG) is encouraging local people to visit their ‘pharmacy first’ for minor illnesses such as coughs and colds, hay fever and indigestion.
A fifth of GP appointments are taken up by minor illnesses which could be better dealt with in other settings, such as pharmacies or by the individual caring for themselves.
The cost to the NHS locally of the prescribing of ‘over the counter’ medicines is around £4 million, part of which could be saved to fund the treatment of other conditions.
Medicines for minor illnesses can be purchased from community pharmacies, many of which are open during evenings, weekends and bank holidays.
Dr Shaba Nabi, Clinical Lead for prescribing at BNSSG CCG said: “An important part of keeping you and your family healthy is by making sure you’re equipped to do so.
“Every home should have a medicine cabinet fully-stocked with essential medicines and products such as painkillers, indigestion tablets and a first aid kit. You can purchase all of these items from your community pharmacy.”
“Encouraging people to look after their minor ailments through self-care will reduce demand on the NHS locally and release resource to fund other health conditions and treatments.”
Local pharmacies can also offer professional, expert advice on the self-care of minor ailments and recommend medicines that can help.
Over the next 12 months, the ‘pharmacy first’ campaign will see posters, leaflets and videos on display GP surgery waiting rooms across the area supported by social media giving advice on self-care.
Earlier this year, a range of medicines that are available to buy over the counter from pharmacies and supermarkets were removed from the list of those routinely prescribed by GP surgeries.
This decision in Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire follows a national consultation and NHS England guidance which recommends this change.
For advice on self-care and keeping a well-stocked medicine cabinet, visit www.bnssgccg.nhs.uk/pharmacyfirst