Changes are being made to the types of treatments available on prescription through the Cornwall’s pharmacies.
NHS Kernow said this follows updated guidance from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) on treatments community pharmacists can prescribe for through the minor ailments service.
These include bacterial conjunctivitis nappy rash, impetigo (a skin condition), insect bites, and uncomplicated urinary tract infections.
The minor ailment service is an NHS scheme that allows community pharmacists to provide advice and some medication on prescription for treatment of conditions that are less complicated, to take pressure off GP surgeries. Medicines are free of charge if a person is exempt from paying for prescriptions.
The changes made to the service as of April 1 are:
• Reducing the age range for the treatment of uncomplicated urinary tract infections (UTIs) for women in line with national guidance. The age range will be changed from 16 to 64 (currently 16 to 75) as it is recommended that a urine sample should be sent for testing in all women older than 65 who have a suspected UTI. This is due to the increased likelihood of underlying conditions in that age group, such as renal disease and bladder cancer. Community pharmacies do not have the facility to send urine samples for testing, so a woman would need to visit her doctor.
• Change the medication used to treat impetigo, in line with national guidance to improve how antibiotics are prescribed and used. Fusidic acid cream, an antibiotic cream, will be replaced with hydrogen peroxide cream, which is an antiseptic.
• Nappy rash treatment will no longer be routinely prescribed through the service and can be purchased over the counter. GPs also do not prescribe treatment for nappy rash.
• Hydrocortisone to be added to the list of medications available on the scheme for the treatment of dry skin and insect bites.
• Discontinuing the bacterial conjunctivitis service as changes have been made to the licensing of chloramphenicol (the treatment for bacterial conjunctivitis) and this product is no longer prescription only.
Georgina Praed, NHS Kernow Clinical Commissioning Group’s head of prescribing and medicines optimisation, said: “Some changes have been made to treatments for conditions supported by the minor ailment service to fall in line with national guidance.
“We continue to encourage people to talk to their community pharmacist about minor ailments as it enables them to receive high quality care and advice when they need it, without having to make an appointment with their doctor.”
Nick Kaye, chief officer for Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly’s local pharmaceutical committee, said: “We continue to support our primary care colleagues and improve access and choice for people with minor ailments by promoting self-care through the community pharmacy.
“People using the service will still be able to get advice from a pharmacist, but there are some changes to treatments available and, in some cases, people will need to buy medication over the counter.”
Visit www.kernowccg.nhs.uk for details about the minor ailment scheme, and what conditions the service can provide help with.