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CCG decision to axe minor ailments scheme means ‘patients will suffer’

A clinical commissioning group's (CCG) decision to scrap a minor ailments service will lead to a “massive influx of patients” to primary care, a contractor has warned.

Fylde and Wyre clinical commissioning group (CCG) announced last month (June 7) that it would stop its ‘Pharmacy+’ minor ailments service on July 1, following national guidance from NHS England to “curb prescribing” of over-the-counter (OTC) medicines for 35 conditions.

Aisling O’Brien, director of O’Brien’s Pharmacy group – which has three pharmacies in the Fylde and Wyre area in the north-west of England – said the CCG’s decision will result in an “astronomical” amount of patients going to GP practices or walk-in clinics.

“Over the last 12 months, across three of my sites in the area, we have done over 5,000 consultations,” she told C+D. Without the service, “86% of those patients said they would have gone to a GP”, she added.

Ms O’Brien said the effect on patient care would be “quite significant”, as they would be left to “suffer in silence”. They “will not pay for medicines [because] they haven’t got the money to”, she added.

Scheme “naturally came to a close”

Speaking at the time of the announcement, Dr Tony Naughton, clinical chief officer at the CCG, said the service had been “very successful”, but argued it was not intended to be permanent.

“Having received the national guidance, it meant most of the items available via Pharmacy+ were no longer available on prescription, so naturally it came to a close,” he added.

Lloydspharmacy ‘disappointed’

Lloydspharmacy – which operates six branches in Fylde and Wyre – said it was “disappointing” that the minor ailments scheme had been withdrawn.

Anna Ruthven, national development manager of commissioned services at Lloydspharmacy’s parent company Celesio, said: “This service will have contributed to the awareness of community pharmacy and established some new relationships with our pharmacists.”

PSNC response

The Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) said the decommissioning of minor ailments services “could have a negative impact on some people, particularly those on low incomes”.

“We would like to see services commissioned that enable community pharmacies to do more to support self-care,” a spokesperson added.

Does your pharmacy still offer a minor ailments scheme?

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