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There is something all of us can do to help our under-siege GPs and hospitals at this, the busiest time of year – and that is to think “Pharmacy First.”

The Minor Ailments Service (MAS) allows patients to have a consultation with their local community pharmacist when they are suffering from common clinical conditions. This results in advice to manage the condition being given, and if appropriate a treatment will be prescribed under the NHS. If necessary, the pharmacist can decide to refer the patient on to another healthcare professional, often their GP. This reduces the number of appointments made with GPs for illnesses that can be easily treated in community pharmacy, and costs the NHS less per patient.

However, its use is limited by both the restrictions on eligibility and the range of illnesses that can be treated. Going forward, we believe the service should be opened up to all patients, hopefully encouraging the public to think “pharmacy first” for minor illnesses and freeing up GP time for more complex cases.

Around 800,000 people pass through the doors of Scotland’s network of 1250 community pharmacies each day. We’re skilled clinical professionals, we’re open convenient hours, and we’re available to help. Help the NHS this Christmas – think Pharmacy First.

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