More people than ever are making use of a service which provides free over-the-counter treatments for a number of ailments.
The Common Ailments Service covers 26 everyday conditions and is available at all 93 community pharmacies in Swansea Bay.
Pharmacists can even offer prescription medications for the same ailments, without the need to see a doctor first.
The free service has helped around 22,000 people so far since April last year, which has increased from 10,000 who used it between April 2019 and March 2020.
All you have to do is register with the pharmacy to be able to use the service, which only takes a few minutes.
And given the current cost of living pressures, having access to free over-the-counter medicines can be a real help.
The 26 ailments covered are: acne, athlete’s foot, back pain, chickenpox, cold sores, colic, conjunctivitis, constipation, diarrhoea, dry eyes, dermatitis, haemorrhoids, hay fever, head lice, indigestion, in-growing toenails, ringworm, mouth ulcers, nappy rash, oral thrush, scabies, sore throat/tonsillitis, teething, threadworms, vaginal thrush, and verruca.
Each community pharmacy has a private room where the consultations are held.
During the consultation, the pharmacist will discuss your symptoms with you and decide whether it would be best to offer advice only, treatment or refer you to a doctor.
There’s no need to make an appointment beforehand, you can visit your local pharmacy to discuss their availability on the day. You may be asked to call back at a more appropriate time or directed to a neighbouring pharmacy.
Sharon Miller, Associate Director for Primary Care at Swansea Bay University Health Board, said: “The service aims to help patients with common ailments and release pressures from GP practices.
“Patients have to register with their community pharmacy to be able to use it but it only takes around five minutes.
“It is so convenient for patients because they haven’t got to make an appointment beforehand.
“The community pharmacist may ask them to call back or there may be a slight wait at the pharmacy but they haven’t got to make an appointment.”
Pictured: Ross Carpenter, community pharmacist at Resolven Pharmacy.
Demand for the service has surged over recent years since the service was introduced.
Resolven Pharmacy currently has almost 400 people registered to use the service, which community pharmacist, Ross Carpenter, called a ‘roaring success’.
He said: “It’s an unexpected service for some as they thought they would have to go to the surgery to see a doctor, whereas we can take over the management of the minor ailments.
“We have found it a roaring success. It’s been going really well.
“The service has opened up a channel for patients to access treatments, medications and advice.
“We have got around 380 patients registered with us. We get lots of repeat users too because once they find it a good avenue and experience, they think of using it first the next time.”
The extended opening hours offered at community pharmacies makes it even easier for people to access the benefits of the service.
“Community pharmacies are ideally located to deliver this service,” Sharon added.
“Many open on a Saturday, while some open on a Sunday or offer late night openings.”