Mr Brine – who served as pharmacy minister from June 2017 until his resignation from the government in March – “championed” establishing the “first-ever national triage service into community pharmacy”, he told delegates at the Sigma Pharmaceuticals conference in London earlier this month (December 1).
He explained that he “passionately believes” the CPCS – which sees pharmacies receive £14 for each consultation they complete following an NHS 111 referral for minor illnesses and urgent medicines supply – “provides a route map to...many better things for community pharmacy in the future”.
“It’s important for everyone involved that we make this service a success,” Mr Brine stressed.
Shortages are “pressing issue”
The former pharmacy minister – whose comments were embargoed until after the general election – also used his address to flag the “pressing issue” of medicines availability.
He praised C+D’s medicines shortages investigation earlier this year – which identified that pharmacy staff experienced shortages across all 36 categories of medicines and highlighted the impact the situation is having on increasing stress levels and pharmacy workload.
“We know shortages of medicines is becoming an increasingly frequent issue that seriously hinders pharmacy teams’ efforts to dispense medicines in a timely manner to their patients,” Mr Brine said.
While the government has introduced measures to help combat medicine shortages, Mr Brine said he is “very sure the system could do much, much more”.
“Pharmacists – and through them, patients – ought to receive much better information about the reasons for medication shortages, because I know delays are hitting patient confidence and I know you find that very frustrating,” Mr Brine told conference attendees.
However, he stressed that he did not believe this is “a Brexit issue”, and said he “expects [medicines shortages] to be a real issue when parliament returns”.