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DH clarifies minister's comments on minor ailments funding

David Mowat: Minor ailments scheme will be commissioned across the country Image credit:

There will be no extra funding for a minor ailments service, despite the pharmacy minister alluding to it in a parliamentary debate this week, C+D has learned.

The Department of Health (DH) confirmed to C+D the day after the debate (October 18) that there would be no additional money for minor ailments – which are already locally commissioned by many clinical commissioning groups (CCGs).

NHS England will encourage all CCGs to adopt similar schemes by April 2018, the DH said.

The government first announced its plans to ensure NHS 111 refers patients with minor ailments  such as sore throats and bites – to community pharmacists for advice and medication last week (October 13).

The following day, the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) rejected the government's plans to slash pharmacy funding in England by 12% from December 2016.

During Monday’s debate – which was called after Labour MP Michael Dugher tabled an urgent question about the pharmacy budget – Mr Mowat said a minor ailments scheme will be “commissioned right across the country”.

By April 2018, pharmacists will be paid “over and above any money that comes out of the settlement for minor ailments”, the minister said.

“Those are exactly the sort of sensible steps that need to be taken to integrate pharmacy more closely into general practice,” he added.

"Glaring factual inaccuracies"

Following the minister’s remarks, Labour MPs Mr Dugher and Jonathan Ashworth penned an open letter to Mr Mowat calling for him to clarify the “glaring factual inaccuracies” in his parliamentary debate.

In their letter, they suggest that Mr Mowat’s responses to MP questions contained “a number of self-evident errors and statements that were at odds with existing government policy”.

They also claim that Mr Mowat’s comment on the minor ailments service “is at odds with the information released by your department on October 14". 

“You have not previously indicated that you will commission this scheme,” the letter reads. “Will the DH be progressing with this?”

Adding to the workload

In its reaction to the parliamentary debate, the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) said its proposals for a national minor ailments scheme had been “explicitly rejected by the government”.

The negotiator “fears” that plans to take local minor ailment schemes “to a national level” would add to community pharmacists’ workload, as they “will have to cut services to manage the funding reduction”, it said.

The DH confirmed last week (October 14) that “no final decision” has been made on its proposals to cut 12% from the pharmacy budget. 

Find out what questions Mr Mowat faced on Monday and his responses here

What do you make of David Mowat's response?

Dilip Shah, Community pharmacist

From the various messages from Rt Hon David Mowatcit seems that he has no clue how community pharmacy works.I an extending an invitation to him to come and spend a day at our pharmacy so that he understands the process and how community pharmacy subsidises NHS.

Shaun Steren, Pharmaceutical Adviser

What is only way to develop a deep understanding of community pharmacy? Work as a community pharmacist for many years. By definition he can only have the most superficial understanding of the words that come out of his mouth. 

Who is in charge of putting those words into his mouth? Civil servants. By definition the only mistake he can make is to get his words mixed up or say words that were not put into his mouth. 

So with this in mind, why are people so angry with a man who is no more than a glorified announcer? 

So we are left with the civil servants. The role of civil servants is to put into action the bigoted ideological bent of a given political party. In Britain this was traditionally those of the Left who believed throwing money at something would always make it better and those on the Right who believed taking money away from something would always make it better. 

More recently New Labour offered a third way in which they spent the same amount of money, or more, but claimed to get better value for that money. Their evidence for this 'more bang for your buck' came from measuring (targets and paperwork) the increase in activity generated by getting people to follow laborious protocols to complete the most simple of tasks. Look! They are doing more for your money! 

The 'New' Conservatives have gone for the double (fourth way?). They have kept the New Labour obsession of measuring increases in pointless activity whilst simultaneously spending less money. So yes, this fool got his words wrong, but you must already understand what is coming? If you don't - you are about to lose some money but get to keep all the bureaucracy.

PARESH shah, Community pharmacist

what training has he had for his job?

Soon-To-Be Ex-Pharmacist, Superintendent Pharmacist


Nat Mitchell, Community pharmacist

I'm concerned about the cuts, but equally concerned that this man has anything to do with my future.

If I performed as badly at my job as he did the other day then I'd be up for a FTP interview.

If you're going to try and trick a whole profession then at least do your research.

Grumpy Pharm, Community pharmacist

It was all bluster and a smoke screen of misrepresentation and spin ready to muddy the waters in readiness for the bomb dropping shortly.

Stephen Walsh, Community pharmacist

Same as the last one. Making it up as he goes along. No evidence, no facts and no justifications for these cuts.

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