Industry leaders have pinpointed the lack of a national minor ailments scheme as one of the biggest disappointments of the year.
Representatives from the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS), Well and Numark hit out at the breakdown in negotiations over the service this year and highlighted the impact on patient care.
RPS president Ash Soni branded NHS England's failure to reach an agreement with the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Commitee (PSNC) a “failure”, given the service's potential to have a “huge benefit”.
"There was a lot of support from NHS England saying we should have a consistent service across England for minor ailments patients, and it seemed to be progressing very well. At the last minute, unfortunately, it didn’t make the cut for the contract," he said.
Well chief executive John Nuttall said “the numbers and the analysis” suggest a minor ailments service would reduce admissions to A&E and GP surgeries, while reducing NHS costs. “As a policy maker, I think it’s a no-brainer,” he said.
Numark director of pharmacy services Mimi Lau said a national service “seemed liked common sense”.
"[I am] frustrated that we didn’t get a nationally commissioned service, given the benefits and value that it could bring to the NHS and to patients. My hope next year is that it will be back on the table and that it’s not written off completely," she said.
Government's lack of engagement
The industry leaders also expressed concern about the government’s lack of engagement with the sector in 2015.
Mr Nuttall said the government doesn’t “know enough about what we do in pharmacy”. “Unfortunately, it’s caught up with us now and I think it’s going to be a very painful 2016 as a result," he said.
Mr Soni said that pharmacy had not been recognised “as widely as it could be”.