PHARMACISTS must start to make demands of their own if the electronic Minor Ailment Service (eMAS) is extended. One of the reasons is that eMAS doesn’t test us as pharmacists, and does not allow us to use our skills as effectively as we should be.
Expansion of the service to include more patients should also allow us to expand the ailments we can treat, and the products we can use.
It would therefore seem pertinent to insist on an expansion of the formulary to include products to treat bacterial skin infections, urinary tract infections, possibly even additional training to treat ear infections.
Previous POM to P switches have barely been relevant, with Zocor, Flomax, Omeprazole not being utilised mainly due to cost.
Access to patients records is a must to ensure a safer prescribing practice, as too often in the community our WWHAM questions are dismissed by patients and their responses are limited. We need patient education – a simple bullet point leaflet with each registration outlining what you can (and can’t!) expect from the service.
If there is consistency in each pharmacy it would reduce fraudulent prescription seeking behaviour from patients. In addition – I believe that patients should always be present for any consultation except in the cases of contagious viral/bacterial illness or norovirus. This would allow us to prescribe for their illness appropriately.
If records of eMAS prescriptions were included on the patient record, then concerns over registration changes would not be warranted. Accessibility for pharmacists to patient records is paramount – if we had access to patient records which documented eMAS prescriptions, then patients aren’t restricted to using a single pharmacy when in most cases they would require a minor ailment service when the GP is not accessible e.g Sundays, late opening pharmacies.
Doctors have to be made aware of what our service can and can’t provide. It is not available to augment any diagnosis and prescription they have provided. It is there to provide a first-line diagnosis and treatment for those that are unable to see the doctor and can be safely treated in the pharmacy.
If a referral is required then we should be able to utilise the IT available to communicate swiftly with the GP. A small note outlining the consultation and a fast-tract for an appointment would exhibit excellent service.
Pharmacists must stand together to be heard, and so a national SOP and possibly a checklist would create a watertight and consistent process that would be difficult to abuse.
This service can provide an excellent opportunity for pharmacists to utilise our skills to benefit patients, but we must not undersell ourselves to get it.
David Steel is an experienced and far travelled locum
Follow David @HonestManDWS