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Joyce Watson AM welcomes health on the High Street



Joyce Watson AM, Labour Assembly Member for Mid & West Wales,  visited the St Clears Pharmacy in Carmarthenshire last week (Friday 21 April) to meet the staff and see for herself the major changes happening in community pharmacy in Wales.   Ms Watson also discussed with local pharmacy staff the imminent roll out of the Choose Pharmacy IT programme, which will provide pharmacists with access to people’s individual health records and help discharge information to be transferred from hospitals to a patient’s nominated community pharmacy.

The support for pharmacies by the Welsh Labour Government is in sharp contrast to the UK Conservative Government’s cut to the funding available to community pharmacies in England from 1 December 2016. The cuts amount to a reduction of four pent to the sector in England in 2016-17 and over seven per cent in 2017-18. In Wales, there will be no funding cut but instead the money will be used to enable pharmacists to take responsibility for managing a range of minor ailments. People will be able to see their pharmacist for free treatment instead of making an appointment to see their GP. The scheme will help to free up GP time to deal with people with more complex needs. Currently almost a fifth of GPs’ workload and eight per cent of emergency department consultations are estimated to relate to minor ailments, such as coughs, colds, ear ache, hay fever and conjunctivitis.

Joyce Watson AM said: “Both the funding commitment in Wales and the Choose Pharmacy platform show the Welsh Government’s commitment to a health on the high street. It makes accessing the appropriate care easier and closer to home for patients, and frees up more time for GPs and hospitals to deal with health issues that only they can deal with.”

She was also impressed to see how St Clears Pharmacy has expanded its range of services to include the visits from a physiotherapist and a podiatrist. It also offers an innovative triage and treat service, where the pharmacist can assist with routine medical problems in a special consulting room.

Deian Phillips, the pharmacist at St Clears Pharmacy, said: “Our two pharmacies in the town are a real hub of the community and demonstrate the commitment of community pharmacy to keep our small towns alive. By offering an enhanced range of services we can make healthcare as accessible and cost effective as possible and make a real difference to local people.”

Commenting on the visit, Community Pharmacy Wales’ Russell Goodway said: “By thinking creatively together pharmacists and politicians can make a real difference to how people access health care conveniently and close to home over the next few years. Wales can offer the best high street based health care anywhere in the UK.”

(Photo: Pharmacist Deian Phillips with Joyce Watson AM)