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Minor ailments 'incidents' prompt new guidance on targets

Scottish government has reminded pharmacists not to offer incentives to the public or staff

The Scottish government has warned pharmacists against setting targets for the national minor ailments service (MAS) following two “incidents”.

Community Pharmacy Scotland (CPS) could not give further details about the nature of the incidents, but stressed that they were "fully resolved by the investigatory process and appropriate learnings put in place".

As a result of the incidents – which were investigated by local health boards and the NHS Counter Fraud Service – the government drafted a set of 10 principles, due to come into force on August 1.

"Do not offer incentives"

The  principles include a reminder that pharmacists “must not offer incentives to the public or staff, set targets or undertake activity that amounts to a recruitment drive”.

Pharmacists must "always obtain the patient's or [a] representative's consent" and "always ascertain the patient's eligibility for MAS", the government said in the document.

This means patients must not "batch-register" patients for the service "other than in exceptional circumstances", such as when IT problems require forms to be completed manually, it added. 

CPS urged all pharmacists to “revisit their [MAS] practice” and ensure it fits with the “directions and intentions of the service”.

The Scottish negotiator has called for anonymised examples of MAS incidents to be shared so it can “support the intent” behind the changes to the guidelines.

Regulatory action

Last month, the former manager of a Boots branch in Glasgow was suspended for nine months for fraudulently registering patients for the MAS. In his hearing, the General Pharmaceutical Council accepted that the individual felt “under considerable pressure” to meet targets at the branch.

3 Comments
Question: 
How would you like to see the Scottish minor ailments service expanded?

Shaun Steren, Pharmaceutical Adviser

'The  principles include a reminder that pharmacists “must not offer incentives to the public or staff, set targets or undertake activity that amounts to a recruitment drive' I think they mean contractors must not offer incentives , set targets or drive recruitment and this should be made law for every single pharmacy service. It should be enforced by holding the CEO and Superintendent personally responsible for any failings in this area and should include custodial sentences for fraud. 

Hadi Al-Bayati, Locum pharmacist

And the difference between this and setting MUR targets is.............????????

Calum Nelson, Locum pharmacist

We don't have MURs in Scotland. However you're right, all of these services should only be provided on the basis of clinical need and suitability, not an arbitrary target you've been set by bosses.

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