PATIENTS will be referred away from their GPs to pharmacists as part of a new pilot in Radcliffe.

In a bid to free up GP's time patients may find themselves sent to a pharmacy instead of their doctor when they have minor ailments.

A paper presented to Bury Clinical Commissioning Group's (CCG) primary care committee outlined the pilot scheme.

It said under the new model, patients would contact their GP as before either in person or via phone. A patient assessment would determine if an appointment was needed and "where appropriate" a referral would be made to the community pharmacist.

The report says: "The referrals will be made for the agreed list of presenting symptoms."

An appointment would be booked with the pharmacy and the patient would attend. The pharmacist would then be able to advise on the best course of treatment.

In some cases this may lead to the patient being sent back to their GP.

Radcliffe has been chosen because its active neighbourhood health teams. The CCG estimates 25,865 consultations a year could be referred to pharmacists in Radcliffe alone. The NHS believes sex per cent of all GP consultations could be safely transferred ­— 20.4 million appointments.

Seven patient groups will be part of the pilot.

These are those under Tower Family Healthcare in Spring Lane; Radcliffe Medical Practice, Redbank Group Practice and Rock at Radcliffe, all in Church Street West; Mile Lane Health Centre in Mile Lane and Monarch Medical Centre in Cross Lane. The paper adds those GP practices in the "West Neighbouhood" will also be included.

Patients looking for an appointment, who are deemed to have minor ailments will be referred to one of eight pharmacies taking part.