Pharmacists in Scotland will have a more hands-on role in determining the care and medication patients receive, Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon has announced.
The new scheme will see patients with long-term conditions be given a "five-star" service from pharmacies.
Pharmacists will give patients "care plans" for patients with ongoing medical conditions such as high blood pressure or diabetes under the chronic medication service.
The role pharmacists play in providing care will be "transformed" by the new service, Ms Sturgeon (pictured) said. The groundbreaking policy is also aimed at reducing the amount of drugs that are wasted.
Under the scheme, patients' records will be shared between GPs and pharmacists.
It will allow people with long-term conditions to register with a pharmacist, helping them build up a relationship and enabling them to receive personalised care.
The initiative also helps ensure that patients receive the right medication at the right time, improving patient safety and reducing medicine wastage.
GPs will be able to give patients serial prescriptions, that will last for either 24 or 48 weeks, with people then able to collect their medicines from the pharmacy every few weeks without needing to go to the doctors.
More than 80 million prescriptions are dispensed in Scotland each year, with about two-thirds of these being given out to patients with long-term conditions.
Announcing details of the scheme, Ms Sturgeon said: "The chronic medication service will transform the role of pharmacists, making better use of their skills and expertise as they work alongside GPs to provide quality care for the millions of Scots who use our pharmacies the most."
She continued: "As well as improving patient care, this service will also help to reduce drug wastage. In these tough financial times it is important to be as efficient as possible.
"Thanks to this new system, patients will receive a new five-star service within existing budgets."
The chronic medication service is being implemented between May and December this year, with community pharmacy contractors each registering up to 50 patients during this period.
The Scottish Government said that fees to pharmacies for providing the new service will be provided from within current budgets.
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Your comments (terms and conditions apply):
"I think this is a poor idea. Many patients will perceive this as unnecessary involvement by pharmacists who, very frequently, are only in the pharmacy for a short time and then never seen again as they move from job to job. Therefore, it would be very difficult to form a 'relationship' with them, even if one wanted to! I would certainly have no wish to consult a pharmacist or to have input from them and would resent any pressure to push me in that direction. My GP and/or specialist are the correct people to consult with medical problems. Pharmacists, however well intentioned, should not be involving themselves in the work of the GP who is a dedicated specialist in general medicine. In addition, patients should not be dissuaded from attending their GP surgery for BP checks or diabetic checks as these are important and often lead people to bring up further issues which need a GP's help" – Name and address withheld