MAS Specification

Service Aim and Objectives

The aim of the Minor Ailment Service (MAS) is to support the provision of direct pharmaceutical care on the NHS by community pharmacists to members of the public presenting with a common illness.

The core objectives for MAS are to:

  • improve access to consultations, advice and medicines for common illnesses;
  • promote care through the community pharmacy setting;
  • shift the balance of care from GPs and nurses to community pharmacists where it is appropriate;
  • help address health inequalities;
  • assist in managing the demand on the time of other members of the primary care team.

Service Description

MAS allows eligible individuals (see MAS overview) to register with and use their community pharmacy as the first port of call for the consultation and treatment of common illnesses. The pharmacist advises, treats or refers the patient according to their needs.

The consultation must be provided by the pharmacist in person, or by trained staff under the direct supervision of the pharmacist.

Service Outline

MAS Registration and Withdrawal

Individuals who are eligible for MAS can register with the community pharmacy of their choice to receive MAS.

The following persons are currently eligible to register for the service:

  • persons who are under 16 years of age or under 19 years of age and in full-time education;
  • persons who are aged 60 years or over;
  • persons who have a valid maternity exemption certificate, medical exemption certificate, or war pension exemption certificate;
  • persons who get Income Support, Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance, Income-related Employment and Support Allowance, or Pension Credit Guarantee Credit, and their family members;
  • persons who receive Universal Credit, subject to certain income thresholds, and their family members;
  • persons who receive support because they are asylum-seekers, and their family members; and
  • persons who are named on, or are entitled to, an NHS tax credit exemption certificate or a valid HC2 certificate.

The following persons are not eligible to register for the service:

  • persons who are not included in the list of eligible persons above;
  • persons not registered with a Scottish GP practice;
  • persons registered with a Scottish GP only as temporary residents; and
  • patients in Care Homes (Nursing and Residential Homes)

Individuals can only register with one pharmacy.

Registration without direct contact from a patient or patient’s representative is not permitted.

Unless an individual is transferring pharmacies or has previously withdrawn from the service, registration only needs to occur once.

The pharmacist registers a person via the Central Patient Registration System (CPRS) hosted at National Services Scotland using the Community Health Index (CHI) number. This, in turn, triggers the printing of a paper registration form in the pharmacy which the person signs annotating their eligibility for the service.

Registration is either done in advance of requiring to use the service or at the time when the service is required. A check is made, for example by asking for evidence, that the person is eligible for MAS. Where evidence is not seen the person can still be registered but the ‘evidence not seen’ box on the back of the registration form should be marked with as cross.

A check is also made at each consultation that the person is still eligible for MAS. Providing that this is the case, they may access the service at any time.

Individuals can choose to withdraw from MAS at any point. In addition, pharmacists can withdraw an individual; this might be due to, for example, a change in their eligibility or other exceptional circumstances. CPRS withdraws people automatically if they die or move into a care home. Registering at a pharmacy automatically withdraws the individual from a pharmacy where they have been previously registered.

National and local publicity initiatives and information leaflets prepared by the Scottish Government are used to raise public awareness of the service.

MAS Consultation

Care provided through MAS includes the presentation, assessment and treatment of symptoms. The pharmacist assesses the patient and considers the most appropriate course/s of action, the counselling and advice needs and any requirements for follow up or referral.

Individuals present with a symptom or symptoms themselves or, occasionally, someone may present on their behalf (for example a parent for a child or a carer).

The pharmacist assesses the symptoms in order to ascertain and consider information which helps them to determine the cause and severity of the presenting condition and determine the most appropriate course of action. This includes the differentiation between common illness and major disease. This helps the pharmacist to decide on the most appropriate form of action. This can be advice only, treatment or referral.

In some instances the only course of action required is to provide advice to a patient. This may also include aspects of healthy lifestyle advice.

When the pharmacist decides that the most appropriate action is to treat the presenting condition(s) then they will then decide on the course of treatment they wish to recommend for the patient. They should select this in line with national and local NHS prescribing policy and wherever possible on a generic basis.

The pharmacist will also establish the counselling and advice needs of the patient. This includes explaining what to expect from their condition, what treatment is being prescribed for them, how to use that treatment, any follow up and how to avoid future episodes. This process is underpinned by the CRAG Counselling and Advice Guidelines.

The requirement to refer a patient is, in most instances, obvious when assessing the condition. Pharmacists and GPs should agree locally the circumstances when and procedure by which a patient requiring to be seen quickly can be referred and this should be supported using either a verbal or written referral request. Patients may also self-refer to their GP.

The MAS consultation enables the pharmacist to identify and agree a shared outcome or a set of outcomes with the patient. This happens as a result of the systematic approach applied to MAS.

The pharmacist also considers the requirement or need for any further follow up. Follow up involves looking for signs that the condition is improving and that there is no deterioration. This is carried out by the patient with any necessary information or support provided by the pharmacist or a member of their support staff.


There is one national formulary which is the reference point for reimbursement purposes for products provided under MAS.

The formulary available to the pharmacist includes all Pharmacy (P) and General Sales List (GSL) medicines that are not blacklisted, dressings and appliances from Part 2 of the Drug Tariff, selected items from Part 3 of the Tariff, such as bug busting kits, and any Prescription Only Medicines (POMs) agreed suitable and which are underpinned by a series of core patient Group Direction (PGDs).

Pharmacists should prescribe in line with national and local NHS prescribing policy and guidance, such as local joint formularies. This includes, wherever possible, prescribing on a generic basis.

MAS is subject to the same prescribing support as other clinical services.

Administration and Record Keeping

Please refer to the MAS Principles and Directions (2016) for the latest guidance on administration.

A CP2 form is used to register people eligible for MAS.

A CP2 form is also used for each patient contact, recording whether they received a consultation, advice, a treatment or were referred to another health care professional.

Where appropriate, this information is annotated into the patient’s medication record on the pharmacy patient medication record (PMR) system.

CP2 stationery must be submitted within two months of the date of registration, or the registration may be cancelled.

In the case of adverse reactions the pharmacist will consider whether there is a need to report any adverse drug reactions to the Committee on Safety of Medicines Scotland (CSM) through the Yellow Card reporting mechanism.

Remuneration and Reimbursement

The pharmacy contractor is remunerated for providing the MAS using a banded capitation fee.

The pharmacy contractor is reimbursed for any product from the national formulary supplied. Part 7B of the Scottish Drug Tariff clarifies the pricing of certain items when prescribed generically.


The pharmacist providing the service must practise within their own competency.

The contractor providing MAS is responsible for ensuring that the service is available at all times of opening. They are also responsible for ensuring that all staff delivering the service have the required competencies.

The pharmacist providing the service must be aware of and operate within the national service specifications and local formulary guidelines.

Useful References