Patients urged to try new scheme to treat uncomplicated urinary tract infections to ease NHS pressures

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Community pharmacies in the North East urging patients to try new scheme treating uncomplicated urinary tract infections to reduce the pressures for GPs and avoid waiting time.

The six-month pilot scheme, aimed at women aged 16-64, will enable pharmacists in the North East to treat patients with urinary tract infections (UTIs) without the need for a GP appointment or prescription, providing a more convenient option and faster access to treatment.

UTIs affect your urinary tract, including your bladder (cystitis), urethra (urethritis) or kidneys (kidney infection). UTIs may be treated with antibiotics, but they're not always needed.

Symptoms of a UTI include:

*Burning or stinging sensation on passing urine

*Needing to pass urine frequently or urgently

*Cloudy urine

*Passing excessive or large quantities of urine

*Blood in your urine

*A very low temperature below 36C

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Dr Neil O’Brien, executive medical director, North East and North Cumbria Integrated Care Board (ICB) said: “More than 75,000 women in the North East and North Cumbria aged between 16-64 presented at a GP practice with a UTI in the last six months.

“Consequently, UTIs take up a large proportion of resources within the healthcare system accounting for two-four percent of all GP appointments each year and ten percent of all extended appointments, outside of GP surgery hours.

“Previously, over-the-counter treatments could only offer relief from the symptoms of a UTI, this new pilot scheme will allow community pharmacists to give advice and appropriate treatment to address and treat the underlying bacterial infection causing the UTI – without the need for a GP appointment.

Community pharmacists are highly trained and utilising them to improve access to care will not only offer a more convenient service for patients but also significantly reduce the demand on general practice and limit the number of unnecessary visits to emergency departments and other health care providers.”

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Since the pandemic patients are urged to seek help from a pharmacist where possible to ease the pressures in doctor’s surgery and hospital.

Not all patients will need antibiotics but for those that do can be provided them quickly and conveniently, without the needing a GP appointment thanks to the scheme.