THE Scottish Government is to consider extending the Minor Ailment Service (MAS) to make it a universal service, First Minister of Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon, has announced as she outlined her legislative programme at the Scottish Parliament today.
“We will examine a proposal in the Labour manifesto to extend the Minor Ailment Service to make it a universal service available in all pharmacies,” she said. In addition, all GP practices would have access to “an enhanced pharmacist”.
The developments were part of the work to transform primary care to deliver a community health service, which also included a new GP contract, more GPs and nurses working in the community and in multidisciplinary hubs, and a commitment to exploring “other initiatives to relieve the pressure on our family doctors”.
Currently, eligibility criteria restricts access to the Minor Ailment Service. Extension of the Minor Ailment Service was one of the key elements of the Community Pharmacy Scotland manifesto, the joint submission with the Royal Pharmaceutical Society to the primary care out of hours review, and also a commitment of Scottish Labour.
Over the course of the parliament, revenue spending on the NHS would rise by £500 million more than inflation, so that by the next election the NHS budget would be nearly £2 billion higher than it was now.
Ms Sturgeon also announced the creation of a new post, Minister for Mental Health, and an extra £150 million over 5 years to improve mental health and mental health services, as well as an extra £1.3 million to support integrated health and social care partnerships.
Chief Executive of Community Pharmacy Scotland, Professor Harry McQuillan said: “Community Pharmacy Scotland is delighted that the Scottish Government is examining a proposal in the Labour manifesto to extend the Minor Ailment Service to make it a universal service, and that our lobbying activity of all the parties ahead of the Holyrood Election has resulted in today’s announcement.
“This request was a central theme of the Pharmacy First element of our pre-election manifesto and has widespread political party support.
“We very much look forward to working with Scottish Government officials to make this expansion a reality for the people our members serve.”
Alex MacKinnon, Royal Pharmaceutical Society Director for Scotland, said: “I welcome the Scottish Government’s willingness to considering an extension of the Minor Ailment Service.
“In our Manifesto Right Medicine, Better Health, Fitter Future we urged the political parties to implement our joint recommendations with Community Pharmacy Scotland and the Directors of Pharmacy Group on the future contribution of community pharmacy as proposed in “Pulling together: Transforming urgent care for the people of Scotland.
“These recommendations specifically suggested re-modelling the Minor Ailment Service, including making greater use of the enhanced clinical skills of pharmacist independent prescribers, and raising public awareness with a view to making pharmacy the first port of call for everyone for common clinical conditions.
“An extension of the Minor Ailment Service would be good for the public and patients, and would also ease pressures on the NHS both in daytime and out-of-hours services. I am therefore encouraged to see that the Scottish Government is willing to consider such an extension.”