WITH Christmas fast approaching, people are being urged to be Winter Wise this season by visiting their local pharmacist for minor conditions rather than attending their GP or accident and emergency department.

From back pain to heart burn to teething, pharmacists can provide free advice and treatment for a range of common conditions for the whole family.

The Common Ailments Service covers 27 conditions whereby a pharmacist can assess and provide medication at no charge, if suitable, without the need for a prescription.

The service allows patients to seek advice or treatment from a participating community pharmacy, rather than their GP, for a defined list of ailments.

The pharmacist will, after a short consultation, give advice, supply medication from an agreed formulary or if necessary, refer the patient to their GP.

The service was introduced to pharmacies across Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion and Pembrokeshire early 2017 and currently 92 pharmacies out of 99 in the three counties participate in the scheme.

Richard Evans, a community pharmacist participating in the Common Ailments Service, said: “Community pharmacists have traditionally advised patients on a wide range of ailments. We have always recommended appropriate treatments to the patient, or if necessary refer them to another Healthcare Professional.

“The Choose Pharmacy Common Ailments Service uses the expertise of the pharmacist, with no cost to the patient for the service.

“Since I have started providing the new service in various community pharmacies in west Wales, I have had several referrals from GP surgeries, such as conjunctivitis and athletes foot, so that the patient was able to receive advice and treatment for the conditions, if required.

“This releases valuable GP time to concentrate on more complex medical problems, whilst the pharmacist is able to use their expertise during the consultation in the community pharmacy.”

Many pharmacists also offer Triage and Treat, a service which treats minor injuries such as superficial cuts and wounds, sprains and strains, eye complaints, minor burns and removal of items from the skin such as a splinters.

In addition to the professional expertise offered at pharmacies, eligible patients can also receive their free flu vaccine to protect themselves and others this winter.

For more information on how the health board’ is planning for winter and advice on how you can help, please visit here.

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