Knowle West residents are calling on health chiefs to reinstate a pharmacy scheme that allowed patients to receive in-store minor ailments advice and assessments.
Bristol South MP Karin Smyth was handed an 80-strong petition at Badhams Pharmacy against recent community pharmacy budget cuts when she visited the Filwood Broadway store this week.
The axed Minor Ailment Scheme helped patients address common health problems such as aches and pains, skin conditions and stomach upsets. The pharmacist was able to assess needs, give advice and suggest medicines if appropriate and, if necessary, refer on to a GP.
Ms Smyth said: “I know from talking with Knowle West residents they really value the free, local service provided by the Minor Ailment Scheme.
“When patients take advantage of the scheme by dropping in to see a pharmacist it inevitably reduces demand on GP appointments, and we know there are already significant pressures on surgeries across south Bristol…
“Its withdrawal means patients taking up GP time on treatments that local pharmacists have been trained to provide…”
Last month the Labour MP wrote to the Bristol Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), after the CCG declared its intention to end the scheme on 31 March 2017.
Managing Director of Badham Pharmacies, Peter Badham said: “Patients are being told to visit their pharmacy first for minor ailments, to take the pressure off over-worked GPs.
“Yet in Bristol, the Minor Ailment scheme which allows pharmacist to give patients some medications free of charge has just been scrapped.
“It is a postcode health service, as in Gloucestershire the scheme has been rolled out across the county to all pharmacies, because it has been such an enormous success
“Our pharmacy in Filwood supports a community that faces many challenges, I feel patients have been betrayed and have been marginalised.”
A spokesperson for NHS England and NHS Bristol Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) said: “On 1 April 2017 NHS England decommissioned the minor ailment scheme in Bristol.
“As the current funding arrangements ended, Bristol CCG is trying to secure funding for a new service.
“Patients can find information on treating minor ailments on the NHS Choice website, the Bristol CCG website or seek advice from their local pharmacist.”
For more information on treating minor ailments visit www.bristolccg.nhs.uk/minor-ailments or www.nhs.uk