Community pharmacy Scotland: the Minor Ailment Service as perceived and experienced by patients

Lee Boag, Anne Boyter, Katie Maclure, Scott Cunningham, Gazala Akram, Harry McQuillan, Derek Stewart

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Background and Objective: The Minor Ailment Service (MAS) in Scotland has provided free treatment via community pharmacy, for those eligible, for self-limiting conditions since its inception in 2006. MAS is a source of free expert advice and treatment which is readily available with no need for an appointment. This service contributes to the national enhancement of healthcare: improving access to services and minimising health inequalities. In 2016/17 over 2 million over-the-counter products were prescribed by pharmacists on MAS costing £4.9 Million. However, there is no information on the experiences of service users at a national level. A national evaluation is therefore planned in the latter part of 2018. The aim of this study is to gauge project feasibility, test the planned data collection and handling of the full scale project, and to obtain an expected response rate. Setting and Method: Five community pharmacies across Scotland were selected for the pilot study on the basis of deprivation and locations. Each pharmacy was provided with 25 study packs containing an initial questionnaire. Those service users who returned the initial questionnaire were mailed a follow-up questionnaire. Main outcome measures: The initial questionnaire included items on: previous use of MAS, presenting condition, expectations, reasons for using MAS, perceived privacy, planned use of other healthcare service(s), perceptions of consultation and views of pharmacist care (Consultation and Relational Empathy: CARE) and self-reported quality of life. The follow up questionnaire determined: perceived effectiveness of treatment, other sources of treatment, further use of MAS and self-reported quality of life. Results: Of the possible 125 questionnaires a total of 52 were distributed in a 1 week period. Pharmacies in the least deprived areas distributed the fewest study packs (n=11), while the most deprived areas distributed the most (n= 41). Of the 52 questionnaires distributed 14 were returned completed: a response rate of 27%. The pilot responses informed questionnaire development with minor changes in layout to increase response rate, and reduction in open ended questions which were rarely completed. Responses from the pilot questionnaires provide positive indications regarding MAS experiences but lack the statistical power to provide representational results. The pilot study has however provided the framework for the full scale study. Conclusion: The full study will distribute 10 study packs from every community pharmacy in Scotland within a 2 weeks period. Given the number distributed in the pilot, this should be achievable. Using the pilot response rate the full project should return in excess of 3000 questionnaires. The full study will provide national patient experience of MAS, allow quantification of the transfer of care to community pharmacy from other healthcare services and service users perception of effectiveness.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2 Sep 2018
Event78th FIP world Congress of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences: Pharmacy in Great Britain - Scottish Event Campus, Glasgow, United Kingdom
Duration: 2 Sep 20186 Sep 2018


Conference78th FIP world Congress of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences
Abbreviated titleFIP conferance
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
Internet address


  • community pharmacy
  • minor ailment service
  • Scotland


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