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DoH – Pharmacy First: Local pharmacies can help with UTI’s.

5 December 2023

Local pharmacies can help with Urinary Tract Infections

Women in Northern Ireland can now visit participating community pharmacies for advice and treatment for uncomplicated Urinary Tract Infections (UTI) without having to wait for a GP appointment.

The service is part of Pharmacy First and is available for women aged 16 to 64. All community pharmacists providing this service are qualified healthcare professionals with the training and ability to test and treat UTIs. They will offer a confidential consultation in a private area of the pharmacy where patients can discuss their symptoms with the pharmacist. Symptoms of a UTI can include:

  • Burning or stinging sensation on passing urine
  • Needing to pass urine frequently or urgently
  • Cloudy urine
  • Passing excessive or large quantities of urine

The pharmacist may test the patient’s urine to help determine if a UTI is present. In some cases, self-care advice may be all that is necessary.  The community pharmacist will be able to supply the patient with medicines to relieve pain and if appropriate, an antibiotic.  In all cases, women will be advised what to do if their symptoms worsen or do not resolve.

Joe Brogan, Assistant Director, Pharmacy and Medicines Management, Department of Health said: “Urinary Tract Infections can be extremely uncomfortable and it’s thought that up to 50% of women will experience one during their lifetime.

“The Pharmacy First UTI service means women can be assessed and treated much sooner without having to wait for a GP appointment. Not only will patients not need an appointment, but community pharmacies are more likely to be open after normal working hours, at weekends and bank holidays.”

The UTI management service has been expanded to more than 400 community pharmacies this year, following the positive evaluation of a pilot which has involved around 60 pharmacies since July 2021.

Between March 2022 and April 2023, over 3,500 women in Northern Ireland made use of the pilot service. Following assessment, more than 85% were diagnosed with a UTI and received appropriate advice and treatment from the pharmacist.

Stephen Toland, Pharmacist at Murphy’s Pharmacy, Derry who has been providing this service since 2021 said: “The feedback from patients has been overwhelmingly positive. They’re really happy that they are able to get same day advice and treatment from a health professional all close to home, for a condition that can be very distressing.”

More information about the Pharmacy First service can be found here: https://online.hscni.net/our-work/pharmacy-and-medicines-management/community-pharmacy-services/pharmacy-first/#PF3

Notes to editors:

  1. Detail of participating pharmacies is available online: https://online.hscni.net/our-work/pharmacy-and-medicines-management/community-pharmacy-services/pharmacy-first/#PF3
  2. No appointment is necessary, patients can simply request a consultation with a pharmacist.
  3. Between March 2022 and April 2023, 3,519 patients benefitted from the pilot service. Once assessed 3,052 (86.73%) of patients were diagnosed as likely suffering from a UTI and provided with the appropriate treatment.
  4. During this period 5.37% of patients were referred to their GP or Out of Hours service.
  5. Pharmacy First for everyday health conditions is available at all community pharmacies in Northern Ireland.
  6. For media enquiries please contact DoH Press Office by e-mail: pressoffice@health-ni.gov.uk
  7. Follow us on X @healthdpt and linkedIn Department of Health NI | LinkedIn
  8. The Executive Information Service operates an out of hours’ service for Media Enquiries Only between 1800hrs and 0800hrs Monday to Friday and at weekends and public holidays. The Duty Press Officer can be contacted on 028 9037 8110.

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