Digital pharmacy system improves patient backlog
An illustration of bottles of medicine.

Nearly 26,000 GP appointments were freed up in February because of a digital pharmacy system available across Wales.

The Common Ailments Service (CAS) supports community pharmacies to provide services for patients across Wales and aims to free up GP appointments for people with more complex needs.

Under the scheme, free treatment and advice can be offered for common conditions including sore throats, colic and chickenpox.

It is part of the wider Choose Pharmacy service – a digital application developed by Digital Health and Care Wales (DHCW) that is enabling pharmacists to access patients’ summary medical records and share details of pharmacy consultations with the patients’ GPs digitally.

Data from DHCW reveals that over 25,000 GP appointments, more than 10 A&E visits and over 250 GP out-of-hours appointments were freed up across Wales in February 2024 by patients accessing the Common Ailments Service instead.

The CAS launched in 2013 as a platform to enable community pharmacists to record consultations, share information and provide treatment for various common ailments.

Dan Hallett, a prescriber at an independent pharmacy in Cardiff and part-time clinical lead with DHCW said: “The Common Ailments Service is now the cornerstone of the pharmacy contract. Through the platform I can access a huge amount of information that helps my clinical decision making, including a summary of the patient's GP records."

He added: “I can receive an electronic discharge advice letter which enables my technician or myself to provide the discharge medicines review which contains the details of the patient’s medication on discharge from hospital – so we can ensure there are no ongoing problems or issues with their medication."

Hallett said the system means pharmacists can provide treatment and advice for a wide range of symptoms often without needing an appointment.