Pharmacy bodies have expressed disappointment that an urgent repeat medicines scheme expected to have been announced last night by pharmacy minister David Mowat will only be a pilot scheme.
The pilot is expected to start in December, along with work by NHS 111 to develop a referrals process for minor ailments.
In response to the announcement, community pharmacy leaders (PSNC, Pharmacy Voice, NPA, the Company Chemists’ Association and the Association of Independent Multiple Pharmacies) said yesterday:
“Although we note today’s recognition of the role that community pharmacy can play in the provision of urgent care and the pilot on the emergency supply of medicines, we are disappointed that this scheme has only been commissioned as a pilot. We are also confused by the references to minor ailments, because we do not believe that what has been set out is in any way the sort of minor ailments service that is needed to really take pressure off urgent care services. Instead the NHS will simply seek to direct people to pharmacies in order to receive advice and to purchase medicines as they would already do.
"More importantly, this announcement is being made in the midst of planned funding cuts for community pharmacy. These cuts could have a much more significant impact on patients, leading to a scaling back of pharmacy services and even possible unplanned pharmacy closures. Pharmacies cannot deliver new services or pilots if they have to cut back staff or worse. This announcement has clearly been timed to draw attention away from the looming cuts, but it once again highlights the contradiction at the heart of the Department’s position – asking pharmacies to develop new roles and services whilst stripping away the investment necessary to make it happen.
"Using community pharmacies to help patients get quick, effective access to care for minor ailments, reducing the demands on general practice, offers less costly, quicker, more effective care, and the refusal of the NHS to commission a national minor ailments advice service from community pharmacies reflects badly on the Government’s concern for our communities and for the NHS.”