A new scheme has been introduced in the East Midlands to enable people calling the NHS 111 help line to have appointments booked with a local pharmacist this winter.
Over 550 local pharmacies across the East Midlands - including Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland - are taking part in the pilot Digital Minor Illness Referral Service (DMIRS) scheme, which enables NHS 111 call handlers to transfer patients with minor health conditions to a local pharmacy for advice and treatment.
By providing face to face appointments, community pharmacists can give advice and treatment for common winter illnesses including colds, sore throats, and vomiting.
People who have called 111 about a minor illness now have the option to see a pharmacist instead of being referred to a GP or walk in centre, which frees up these services to treat people with greater clinical need.
Pallavi Dawda, Local Professional Network Chair and DMIRS Project Manager for the East Midlands, said: “When we get sick, many of us don’t think about contacting a pharmacist. Thanks to this new service, patients contacting NHS111 for advice can be directed to a pharmacist that will be expecting them, meaning that they can get the right treatment close to home.
“Patient feedback from a similar service introduced in the North East has been very good and we are pleased to be able to offer this in the East Midlands, to make a positive difference to patient care in our area.”
On referral from 111, patients receive a clinical assessment in a private consultation room at their local pharmacy.
Experts in medicines
Community pharmacist, Emily Khatib, said: “Visiting your local pharmacy is convenient, easily accessible and you often don’t have to wait to be seen. Pharmacists are your healthcare professionals on the high street.
“This new route through NHS 111 provides an alternative option for patients with minor health concerns, helping to free up capacity in other areas of the NHS.”
Pharmacists train for five years in order to manage minor illnesses and provide health and wellbeing advice. Some also have an additional prescribing qualification.
Please note that patients can still access advice from their community Pharmacist by walking into any local Pharmacy. You can find your nearest pharmacy here.