Fianna Fáil TD for Louth Seamus Kirk has called on the Government to roll-out a Minor Ailment Scheme to help provide patients with quicker access to appropriate healthcare.

Deputy Kirk made the comments after raising the issue in the Dáil with Minister of State at the Department of Health Kathleen Lynch.

“Research shows us that up to 95% of people’s day-to-day health and social care needs can be met in the primary care setting. It is therefore vital that we expand community based healthcare, and one way this can be achieved is by rolling out a Minor Ailment Scheme” said Deputy Kirk.

“The introduction of a Minor Ailment Scheme will allow local pharmacists to provide treatment for minor ailments such as a headache, heartburn and hay fever. It is estimated that nearly 20% of a GP’s workload is spent dealing with such minor ailments. The introduction of a Minor Ailment Scheme will reduce the burden on GP practices across the country and will ease pressure across our health system.

“It is estimated that the introduction of a Minor Ailment Scheme could lead to 750,000 extra GP consultations each year. This will free up manpower in countless GP practices that are already stretched to the limit, and expected to be put under even further pressure following the introduction of free GP care for under 6’s.

“The UK introduced a ‘Pharmacy First Scheme’ based along the lines of a Minor Ailment Scheme. It has been hugely successful to date and research carried out in the UK has concluded that over 90% of patients reported a complete resolution of their symptoms after having attended their local pharmacist.

“I raised this matter with Minister Kathleen Lynch in the Dáil recently. The Minister admitted that there are advantages associated with the introduction of a Minor Ailment Scheme. With this in mind I am calling for the Government to introduce such a scheme as soon as it is feasible to do so.”