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'Brine told me there's no plan to fund national minor ailments scheme'

Pharmacy minister Steve Brine has no plans to roll out a national pharmacy-led minor ailments scheme, Labour MP Julie Cooper has claimed.

The pharmacy minister “confirmed to me in writing” on May 3 that a national minor ailments service will “not be happening”, the Labour MP for Burnley claimed.

“There are no plans at all to do that," Ms Cooper told an all-party pharmacy group (APPG) meeting last week (May 14).

In an excerpt of a letter to Ms Cooper – which she shared with C+D – Mr Brine stated that, while there are no plans for a national minor ailments scheme, “over 11,000 pharmacies are providing clinical support, including urgent medicine supplies through the Quality [Payments] Scheme”.

C+D has contacted Mr Brine to confirm the contents of the letter.

Mr Brine's decision not to invest in a national minor ailments scheme is “hugely disappointing”, Ms Cooper told C+D last week (May 18).

“I do not believe that the minister has full appreciation of the professional capabilities of pharmacists and this decision is further evidence [of that] and really is a missed opportunity,” she added.

In October, Mr Brine was asked by Labour MP Paula Sherriff what the government is doing to “specifically buck the trend” of the decommissioning of local minor ailments schemes, and was reminded that “in 2016 ministers committed to encouraging every clinical commissioning group (CCG) to have a minor ailments service”.

In response, Mr Brine said at the time: “Things have moved on…The clock has moved on.”

Pharmacy's role in managing chronic conditions

Representatives from the Company Chemists’ Association (CCA), the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC), the National Pharmacy Association (NPA), the Pharmacists’ Defence Association (PDA), and the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) all gave evidence at the APPG meeting on community pharmacy’s role in managing patients’ chronic conditions.

“Some of the things we are hearing about here are absolutely excellent,” said Ms Cooper, who used to own and run a community pharmacy with her pharmacist husband. However, “it appears to me the person that needs to be convinced is actually the minister in charge”.

“I had a long detailed meeting with [Mr Brine] on this very issue,” Ms Cooper added. “I don’t think he’s getting the point.”

Steve Double, Conservative MP for St Austell and Newquay, who co-chaired the meeting, claimed Mr Brine “absolutely gets it” and he is “not sure the problems are with the minister”.

Is a minor ailments scheme commissioned in your area?

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