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Campaign to promote primary care services launched

Community pharmacists, optometrist and dentists are joining forces in a government initiative to highlight the importance of NHS primary care services.

Posted: 27 July 2016

NHS Wales contractors in primary care are taking part in a sticker campaign to help raise awareness of the services available for patients in their communities so they ‘choose well’ rather than visiting GPs or casualty in cases that can be treated elsewhere.

The window displays will carry the bilingual NHS Wales / GIG Cymru logo and the wording “NHS WALES SERVICES AVAILBLE HERE / GWASANAETHAU GIG CYMRU YN GAEL YMA”.

Speaking at Pritchard Pharmacy in Denbighshire, the Welsh cabinet secretary for health, well-being and sport, Vaughan Gething, said: “Our pharmacies, optometry practices and dental practices provide convenient health services for people in their own communities.

“Along with GPs, they are a person’s first, and often their most frequent, point of contact with a healthcare professional.”

He added: “They [independent contractors] are increasingly taking on clinical roles that previously have been the domain of doctors, and sometimes hospitals, and are taking greater responsibility for providing advice and treatment for people with minor ailments.

“If a person has a problem with their teeth then in Wales they should visit a dentist or if they have a problem with their eyes or vision their local optometrist is the best person to consult with.

“Pharmacies can prescribe medication for a number of minor ailments without needing a doctor's prescription.”

Interim chief pharmaceutical officer, Andrew Evans; chief optometric adviser, Barbara Ryan, and the deputy chief dental officer, Lisa Howells, explained the initiative in a joint letter.

“Primary care is about those services which provide the first point of care, day or night for more than 90% of people’s contact with the NHS in Wales.

“General practice, pharmacy, optometry and dentistry are all important providers of NHS primary care.

“To improve public awareness of the important role independent contractors play in delivering NHS services, the Welsh Government is providing all community pharmacies, optometry practices and dental practices with new NHS Wales window display stickers.”

It is hoped that clearly identifying NHS primary care service providers will build confidence in the care and advice they can provide and help the public understand when and how best to access care.

Russell Goodway, chief executive of Community Pharmacy Wales, said: “We warmly welcome this recognition by the Welsh Government of the important role of primary care NHS services, including community pharmacy.

“This official NHS branding will also give community pharmacies, and our primary care partners, important credibility and so give patients confidence to use these services.

“We are also delighted to join with our healthcare colleagues in Optometry Wales to mark this recognition. Between us we represent over 1000 NHS outlets across Wales.”

Sali Davis, chief executive of Optometry Wales, added: “The provision of the stickers are a great acknowledgement from Welsh Government of the vital role of independent contractors and the valuable role that we all play in the community.”