More people on the Isle of Wight are visiting their local pharmacy before booking an appointment with a doctor.

Around 500 people each month on the Island are being treated more quickly by going to see a pharmacist – as part of the Pharmacy First scheme.

Run by the NHS Isle of Wight Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), it encourages people to visit a community pharmacist for the management of minor ailments where they can be seen quickly and without the need for making an appointment.

Today (Monday) NHS England is launching a national ‘pharmacy advice’ campaign urging people to see a pharmacist for minor ailments.

A person can ask in the pharmacy for advice regarding a minor ailment and a private consultation room is available if appropriate.

A number of conditions can be treated under Pharmacy First, including coughs, colds and sore throats, hayfever and allergies, aches and pains, stomach upsets, diarrhoea or constipation, skin infections, warts and verrucae, conjunctivitis, head lice, worms and scabies, and insect bites and stings.

Caroline Allen, deputy head of medicines optimisation for the CCG, said:

“It takes several years of intensive training to become a pharmacist and although that brings with it an expertise in medicines, it’s not the only thing your local pharmacist can offer.

“They can supply over the counter treatments and give advice for many common ailments which can also save you a trip to the GP, and you can begin your treatment quicker.

“We know there’s a lot of demand for GP appointments, so by using Pharmacy First it also frees up doctors to see more appropriate patients that do need primary care help.

“We are really pleased to see people are using Pharmacy First, but we are keen for more people to use this fantastic service. We have increased the range of medicines available so this will enable more people with a wider range of healthcare needs to get help.”

If after a consultation with a pharmacist you do need to be seen at a GP surgery, then you will be given a card which you can present to your GP practice to show you have already visited a pharmacist and they recommend that you need further treatment.

Fran Alvarez, Sandown Practice pharmacist, said:

“Pharmacists can also help you manage your medicines and give you advice on any questions you may have about your existing medication as well as new ones.

“You can also talk to us about other health matters for example developing a healthier lifestyle, measure your blood pressure or give advice about stopping smoking.”

To find out about which pharmacies are involved in the scheme and what ailments you can see them for, visit https://www.isleofwightccg.nhs.uk/your-health.html