If proof were needed that innovation is not always easy to deliver, pharmacists in Brighton can provide it. Trying to get a hepatitis testing service, commissioned by Brighton and Hove PCT but halted in the early months of this year, up and running had been like "hitting our head against a brick wall", according to one contractor.
The trust blamed the "very limited uptake" of the service among pharmacies for its decision to decommission it, and East Sussex LPC professional executive officer Vanessa Taylor confirms this was an issue. "The uptake from community pharmacists and clients was really low: only eight community pharmacists said they would take part initially," she told C+D.
And those adopting the service quickly ran into problems. "We tried to catch patients who used the needle exchange service, but often got the wrong patient group," Ms Taylor explains. Pharmacists also fed back that when patients did test positive, it took an "enormous amount of time" to counsel them. "Pharmacists were only paid for the test, not lengthy patient counselling, although that was part of the remit," Ms Taylor says.
It's been like hitting our head against a brick wall
One local pharmacist, who offered the tests but asked to remain anonymous, said: "There was low take-up because we're in an under-privileged area with no education. [The PCT] wanted us to harangue people, which would just have driven them away."
Ultimately, although losing any service is a disappointment, this decision seems to have been right for many reasons. "It seemed the most obvious service to decommission because it [involved] a very hard-to-reach group," concludes Ms Taylor.