Pharmacists in Scotland are to start prescribing antibiotics to women with urinary tract infections in a scheme designed to free up thousands of GP appointments.
NHS Grampian said more than 90 community pharmacies have signed up to the scheme, which allows specially trained pharmacists to give the antibiotic trimethoprim to women with uncomplicated UTIs.
The health board said this could free up nearly 25,000 GP appointments a year in the region.
Scottish Health Secretary Shona Robison welcomed the scheme and said it could be rolled out across the whole of Scotland.
Ms Robison said in a statement: ‘Through the National Delivery Plan to Transform Urgent Care, consideration is being given to how a similar model could be rolled out across Scotland benefiting both in and out of hours care.’
The service has been piloted at NHS Forth Valley and is already under consideration at other health boards, the Herald Scotland reported.
A previous trial at NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde showed the approach could save GP appointments and improve patients’ access to treatment out of hours.
Dr Alasdair Jamieson, GP lead for Aberdeen City with NHS Grampian, said around 1% to 3% of GP consultations a year were for women presenting with UTI and that many ‘are acutely aware when they have a UTI and when it requires treatment’.
He added: ‘That has real potential to reduce GP workload, freeing up appointments and allowing greater focus on more complex, urgent medical conditions. Clearly that will have significant direct and indirect benefits for patients right across general practice.’