Pharmacies have conducted more than 1,700 consultations in under a year as part of the Welsh government's common ailments pilot.
The Choose Pharmacy service, which launched across two health boards last October, had seen 32 pharmacies conduct 1,765 minor ailment consultations on 1,481 patients, the Welsh government told C+D earlier this month (September 11).
More than £60,000 had been spent on the trial by May 2014, with an added £500,000 allocated to support the electronic exchange of patient information between hospitals, GPs and pharmacies.
The scheme, which is run by the Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board (BCUHB) in north Wales and the Cwm Taff Health Board in the south of the country, requires patients to register with a pharmacy to receive advice and over-the-counter medicines to treat a range of minor ailments - including constipation, dyspepsia, hay fever, coughs and sore throats - without having to see a GP.
Pharmacists can refer patients to a GP if necessary, and each patient has their own Choose Pharmacy record that enables pharmacists to record and update each consultation.
The trial would continue until "at least" October 2015, when it would be independently evaluated to decide whether to expand the service to other parts of the country, the Welsh government said. This evaluation would also look at whether it had saved GP time, which was a "key outcome", it said.
BCUHB said that 19 pharmacies across the Gwynedd region had been offering the service. The scheme had been "welcomed" by pharmacists and patients alike and had "received positive feedback to date", the health board told C+D.
Patients can be signposted to the service by GPs, optometrists or health visitors and BCUHB said it had seen an increase in referrals from healthcare professionals, which it hoped showed a "shift" in patient care in the area.
Kevin Hope, owner of Hope Pharmacy in Glamorgan, which took part in the trial, told C+D patients had been enthusiastic about the service and he had delivered between 100 and 120 consultations so far.
Local GP surgeries had been proactive in promoting the service to patients at certain points of the month, leading to "little surges" in demand, he said.
The only downside of the service was that each consultation took roughly 10 minutes, he said. Although the two pharmacists at Hope Pharmacy were able to cope with demand for the service, Mr Hope suggested a single pharmacist could struggle.