The service will be scrapped from May 1 and “payment will not be authorised for any activity incurred after April 30”, the CCG said in a letter sent to local pharmacies last week, and seen by C+D.
In the letter, the CCG asked pharmacies to “ensure all minor ailments scheme posters are removed from display counters as of the [service’s] termination date”.
A spokesperson for Hounslow CCG told C+D yesterday (January 25) that there has been “very limited uptake” of the service since it was locally commissioned in 2011.
A review of all the local services commissioned from Hounslow contractors revealed “around three patients a day” were making use of the service, with “the majority of activity coming from just two pharmacies”, the spokesperson added.
“The minor ailments scheme did not provide an equitable service for the total population of Hounslow,” the CCG concluded.
A "bombshell" for pharmacists
A pharmacist in the area – who wished to remain anonymous to avoid being singled out by the CCG – told C+D the decision had come as a “bombshell”.
“I have contacted several GPs in the area who all said they had no idea about this and [the scheme] lightens their workload considerably,” they added.
Hounslow CCG said it has “communicated the decision to GP practices”. The local pharmaceutical committee (LPC) “has been included in conversations, and has been invited to meet with CCG representatives to discuss” the decision, it added.
“Patients are, of course, still able to visit community pharmacies for healthcare advice about minor ailments, such as coughs and colds,” the CCG stressed.
“They are also encouraged to phone 111 for free.”
C+D has contacted the Middlesex Group of LPCs – which includes Ealing, Hammersmith and Hounslow LPC – for comment.
Last October, the government announced plans to encourage all CCGs to adopt locally commissioned minor ailment schemes by April 2018.