More enhanced services axed as PCT cutbacks spread to the north

Pharmacies in the north west have seen services vanish or shrink, with two PCTs cutting minor ailments services or smoking cessation services.

Tameside and Glossop PCT has cancelled its smoking cessation service, and Blackburn with Darwen Teaching PCT will suspend its
minor ailments services through pharmacies from September.

East Lancashire PCT has also reduced its minor ailments service, with the formulary slashed and patients allowed only a limited number of visits before they must use GP services.

The cuts come just one week after C+D revealed the loss of a stop-smoking scheme in Surrey.

Lloydspharmacy director Andy Murdock hit out at the cuts, warning that PCTs were “cutting off their noses to spite their faces” with a narrow outlook.

He said: “If we are going to have greater efficiency in the NHS it would make sense to move treatment to the right place. In my view pharmacy is the best place [for minor ailments].

“If you look at the cost of pharmacy, it is cheaper. If you’re increasing access, and doing it cheaper… it’s a false economy [for PCTs to cut services].”

Ian Short, secretary for Oldham, Tameside and Glossop LPC, said the committee was considering whether to contest the loss of its the cessation service in its area. Pharmacy was a “soft target” that could see further cuts, he warned.

He said: “I deal with four PCTs and all are aggressively reviewing pharmacy services as they see bottom line quick savings. We’re seen to be a particularly soft target.”

However, Tameside and Glossop PCT offered a ray of hope, vowing it would try to save the service. Pharmacies had been so successful in helping quitters the service had outstripped its budget, the PCT said.

Mark Collins, PSNC north western regional representative, said the future of services through pharmacies in the region was “pretty much doom and gloom”.

“The prospect of reduced income is really scary, and we’ve had to tell patients they can’t use the service,” he said.

However, Mr Collins praised pharmacist colleagues working in the PCT, despite the cuts.

“Pharmacist advisers put a lot of work in – but they’re told by bean counters services have got to go. They’re devastated,” he added.

Easy Lancashire PCT said the cost of its pharmacy minor ailments services had exceeded forecasts and had been scaled back because of financial pressures. Blackburn with Darwen Teaching PCT was contacted about its cuts, but had not responded as C+D went to press.

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Ethan Crane, Community pharmacist
Posted on 26 August 2010.
Why not get rid of some of the non-jobs that exist in PCT land and keep the front line services that benefit patients, especially in deprived areas.
Does my PCT really need 2 Information Governance officers? or a Clinical Governance Facilitator? What do they do for 40 hours a week? If they didn't turn up for a week or two, would anyone notice?!
Over the last decade or so under Labour, these PCTs have built themselves up into huge bureaucratic pyramids. And as widely predicted, services that are beneficial are being axed before layers of useless middle management. This is where the real savings can be made. All the 30, 40 and 50k plus jobs that didn't exist 10 years ago. Let's look at all of these before we axe more patient focused services. I know it isn't nice to put people out of work, but we need to ask the question, were these posts real jobs in the first place?
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