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The Scottish government has launched a new service to provide healthcare advice and support to treat minor illnesses in community pharmacies.

NHS Pharmacy First Scotland will allow community pharmacies to give people expert help for treating conditions such as sore throats, earache and cold sores, along with common clinical conditions such as urinary tract infections.

Pharmacy teams will offer advice, treatment or referral to other healthcare teams if required, the Scottish health and social care department has said.

This new service will help people access the right care in the right place, without having to go to their GP practice or local Accident & Emergency departments for non-urgent treatment.

Everyone who is registered with a GP practice in Scotland, or who lives in Scotland, is encouraged to use their local pharmacy when they have a minor illness or common condition.

Hospital A&Es remain open for emergency care, with public health measures in place to protect staff and patients.

Health Secretary Jeane Freeman said: “During the first phase of the Covid-19 pandemic people followed public heath guidance closely and used their local pharmacy for medical advice and help.

“The launch of NHS Pharmacy First Scotland will make sure that people across Scotland can continue to do this. It gives access to the right care in the right place, getting medical support that is closer to home and often with no waiting time or appointments needed.

“While the NHS is there for all of us, we don’t all need to go to accident and emergency. For many of us, it is not the right place for the care we need. NHS Pharmacy First Scotland provides a local service, giving local access to healthcare help for many illnesses.

“In an emergency you should always call 999 or go to your nearest accident and emergency department. By continuing to do what we have been doing throughout this pandemic and accessing the right care in the right place, we continue to help our emergency teams and ensure accident and emergency provides the fastest and often lifesaving care for people when they really need it.”

Chair of Community Pharmacy Scotland Martin Green said: “NHS Pharmacy First Scotland is an exciting service development for everyone. It recognises the role that the community pharmacy network can play in helping patients and the wider NHS team by ensuring people get the right care in the right place.

“Pharmacists, supported by their pharmacy teams, will be able to offer consultations for anyone with minor illnesses and provide the appropriate advice and support.

“We look forward to community pharmacy demonstrating its value with the Scottish public through this service and developing it further in years to come in line with the needs of the public and the NHS.”

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