PRIMARY CARE: Pharmacies in the North East have started to provide free pain killers so that patients with minor ailments do not have to make appointments with their GPs.

The pilot scheme run by South Tees Clinical Commissioning Group is designed to reduce the number of patients who face several days or even weeks of waiting to see their GP.

Ten community pharmacies in the region are giving patients medicines such as paracetamol and ibuprofen for free.

CCG chair Dr Janet Walker and chief officer Amanda Hume said in a joint report to the CCG governing body: “The winter period often results in a rise in attendance at GP practices and we are keen to promote alternatives for people who may have minor ailments that could be treated without a visit to their GP.”