Devon pharmacists saved more than 750 hours of GP time in the first five months of a government-funded minor ailments scheme, C+D has learned.
Pharmacy teams saw more than 8,000 patients between last November and March as part of the scheme, which included a winter ailments service, an emergency supply service and a minor ailments programme (see below), Devon LPC said in an evaluation of the initiative.
The consultations saved almost £42,000 for the local health economy, the LPC told C+D last week (June 29). This included saving GPs more than 465 regular working hours and more than 300 hours of out-of hours time, as well as 35 hours for A&E staff, the LPC said.
All of the 195 patients who completed a survey on the scheme said they were “happy with the service and would recommend it to friends and family”, the LPC said.
The scheme was funded by £168,000 from the Prime Minister’s Challenge Fund, and the LPC told C+D it had already agreed a further £107,000 from the same fund to continue the scheme until the end of September.
Really positive results
Devon LPC chief officer Sue Taylor told C+D the results were “really positive” and she was in discussions with local clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) about extending the service in the “longer term”.
“It’s really shown that pharmacy has got a place supporting self-care, and it’s demonstrated we’ll divert people away from other care providers when that’s appropriate,” she added.
LPC project pharmacist Mark Stone told C+D he thought the “strong” evaluation would secure the further pharmacy services for the area.
“The key saving for commissioners in a very pressurised environment is GP time. If this service is decommissioned, where do 5,000 GP appointments come from?” he said.
PSNC announced in May that it was negotiating a national minor ailments scheme.