Changing patient consultation patterns in primary care: an investigation of uptake of the Minor Ailments Service in Scotland

Health Policy. 2011 Jan;99(1):44-51. doi: 10.1016/j.healthpol.2010.07.002. Epub 2010 Aug 3.


Objectives: To study the impact and potential predictors of uptake of patient registrations and supplied medicines under the Minor Ailments Scheme (MAS) in Scotland. The MAS was introduced in 2006, intending to improve health care access by re-directing patients from primary care to community pharmacies.

Methods: Numbers of dispensed MAS items and patient registrations were obtained for all community pharmacies in Scotland for the period 2006-2009. Local demographic and socioeconomic characteristics were attributed to community pharmacies as potential predictors of MAS service uptake.

Results: There were significantly more MAS registrations in community pharmacies located in the most deprived areas. MAS registrations in rural areas were significantly lower than in urban areas. Rates of MAS items supplied ranged from 219.9 to 3604.6 items per 10,000 Health Board population in 2008/09. Urban pharmacies supplied 72.6 MAS items per month compared to 43.3 items per month by rural pharmacies. 96.7 items per month were supplied by pharmacies in the most deprived areas compared to 53.2 items per month in the least deprived areas.

Conclusion: There has been geographical variation in uptake of the MAS service. Community pharmacies under multiple ownership engaged in MAS activity to a greater extent than independent pharmacies, with higher uptake in community pharmacies located in deprived and urban areas.

MeSH terms

  • Female
  • Health Services Accessibility / organization & administration*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Patients*
  • Pharmacies
  • Primary Health Care*
  • Program Evaluation
  • Referral and Consultation / organization & administration*
  • Scotland
  • State Medicine