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NHS England reveals why minor ailment negotiations collapsed

PSNC and NHS England held "lengthy discussions" on a national minor ailments scheme

NHS England told C+D it could not agree with PSNC on the terms of a potential national service, and that it had a responsibility to ensure "good value for the taxpayer"

EXCLUSIVE

NHS England refused to commission a pharmacy minor ailments scheme because it could not reach an agreement on the “price, specification and service model” with PSNC, C+D has learned.

The commissioning body said on Wednesday (July 22) that it had a responsibility to ensure “excellent quality and good value for the taxpayer”, when asked by C+D why the national service did not form part of the 2015-16 funding settlement. It did, however, say it would continue to encourage commissioning of local schemes.

PSNC revealed on Monday (July 20) that NHS England had decided not to pursue the service, despite the negotiator holding “lengthy discussions” and submitting a “detailed proposal”.

PSNC said it was “frustrating” that the service had been shelved, having announced it was in related negotiations in May. The negotiator said the service would have encouraged patients to use pharmacists instead of GPs for minor conditions, and warned that abandoning negotiations was a "massive missed opportunity for the NHS".

But it stressed the importance of commissioning a service that would “work for pharmacy in practice” – with a fee that took into account the evidence-based advice and support, as well as potential record-keeping costs.

The negotiator vowed to continue to make the case for a minor ailments service that was “right for community pharmacists and patients”.
 

Has NHS England given valid reasons for not commissioning a minor ailments service?

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10 Comments

Gursaran Matharu, Community pharmacist

It does amaze me that at a time the DoH wants pharmacists to go into GP surgeries and assist in the GP workload, they are unable to recognise, or should that be value the very same pharmacists by commissioning a 21st century MAS service. An uneasy dynamic has began to emerge between National. Regional and Local commissioning with the commissioners passing the commissioning decision to each other whilst the poor old patient says "sod this I'm off to A&E!" Has somebody put Armando Iannucci in charge?

Asmita Patel, Community pharmacist

I have SUCCESSFULLY been running a minor ailment scheme in Lambeth for the past 5 years much to the gratitude of my local GP practices who also REFER them to us. I am in the middle of developing a dialogue that the receptionists can use to save appointments.Why aren't existing and proven models being looked at before going into negotiations? This would save time for all concerned and hopefully we would get the outcomes that would be beneficial to both the public and the practitioners!! Another blow for pharmacists where instead of raising our profile we are being beaten into the ground! When are our skills going to be recognised and utilised!!!!!!!!

David Pattinson, Community pharmacist

GP appointment time 'wasted' dealing with minor ailment complaints, is 'valuable' time to the overstretched GP, between the more complex patients. They simply would not wish to see it go!

Pillman Uk, Non Pharmacist Branch Manager

I am disappointed that the service that PSNC reps had almost guaranteed us, has fallen by the wayside. Now it's left to the postcode lottery of the CCGs, who tend to just want a free p medicine supply scheme without paying for the professional advice input/consultation. So once again, GP appointments will be taken up by a workload that we could handle. But then I guess the government aren't too keen to make GP life easier at the moment without some redress in their funding or an increase in their workload

Pillman Uk, Non Pharmacist Branch Manager

I am disappointed that the service that PSNC reps had almost guaranteed us, has fallen by the wayside. Now it's left to the postcode lottery of the CCGs, who tend to just want a free p medicine supply scheme without paying for the professional advice input/consultation. So once again, GP appointments will be taken up by a workload that we could handle. But then I guess the government aren't too keen to make GP life easier at the moment without some redress in their funding or an increase in their workload

Kevin Western, Community pharmacist

So, we are told by psnc that negotiations and reasons for failure are all top secret and us at the coalface have no right to know because nhse says so, but nhs is happy to release reasons for failure when it suits them - here's a precedent psnc - perhaps you can be more open going forward on,what is happening and why.

Rekha Shah, Community pharmacist

Most of the local services are just offering a simple supply route for medicines with a little advice over the counter in order for patient not to go to a surgery. What the NHS really needs is a professional service based on advice + basic product where necessary, from a pharmacist who spends adequate time with a patient in a consultation room to help patient manage the condition now and understand how to self manage in the future without resorting to GP A&E or MIU unnecessarily. It is this quality stuff that's necessary in bringing about true change in behaviours of patients because they see the alternative of pharmacy as equivalent to GP for minor issues. Last winter there was a major campaign telling people to think before using urgent care and go to the pharmacy first for minor issues - in my patch in Central London many pharmacists reported huge additional footfall for this from people with high expectations - only to realise they got free advice over the counter but needed to pay for the medicines they needed! Many were not even prepared to purchase basic paracetamol which was all they needed along with the advice! So they decided to access these by the normal route after all! What a waste of time for all concerned NHSE needs to get real and decide once and for all what it wishes pharmacy to do to support Pressures on General Practice, Urgent Care etc and then provide proper funding to ensure a quality professional service that will build confidence in users and change behaviours longer term which is so desperately needed! Some local MAS services are a farce and not fit for purpose at all but I guess they will continue now...

Dave Downham, Manager

Definition of postcode lottery?

Z ZZzzzz, Information Technology

I already mentioned the model in Scotland in respond to an earlier article this week. How much more of an evidence based service do NHS England need to look at. There is a pilot scheme using 5m Scots for goodness sake. I love the irony that states what NHS E says and in the same breathe says it is okay to commission locally. Brilliant or bonkers you have got to hand it to them. I vote for bonkers.

SP Ph, Community pharmacist

Don't worry, do the flu jabs, get the pharmacists in GP surgeries ....... let the GPs get frustrated then you will have what you want.

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