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Minor ailments negotiations scrapped

NHS England have "decided not to pursue" a national minor ailments service

Plans to roll out a national minor ailments service across England have been shelved due to NHS England resistance

Negotiations over a national minor ailments service in England have come to a dead end, PSNC has announced.

NHS England had “decided not to pursue” the service despite PSNC submitting a “detailed proposal” making its case, the negotiator revealed when announcing the 2015-16 funding package yesterday (July 20).

The funding package included a £2.8 billion global sum – the same as last year – and a new nationally commissioned advanced flu vaccination service.

PSNC said it was “frustrating” that plans for a national minor ailments service had been shelved, having announced it was in negotiations over its funding 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".

“PSNC believes it will have a negative impact on both the NHS and patients, who are missing out on a valuable professional service that could both improve care and reduce pressures on GP practices and the wider health service,” it argued.

The negotiator vowed to continue to “make the case” for a national minor ailments service that was right for pharmacists and took into account the potential record-keeping costs.

Gary Warner, contractor and chair of PSNC’s service development subcommittee, said he was “disappointed” by NHS England’s decision. But he added that NHS England’s agreement to work with PSNC on business cases for other services – also announced as part of the 2015-16 funding package – could help make future bids a success. No details of what services might be included in this agreement have been given by PSNC.

Peter Cattee, chair of PSNC’s funding and contract subcommittee, said there was still a long way to go in communicating pharmacy’s potential value. “It is clear that, although many people – including politicians and policy makers in the health service – have heard this message, we still have more to do,” he stressed. “This can be exasperating work.”


How would a minor ailments service benefit patients in  your area?

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Mumtaz Jivraj, Community pharmacist

Never mind worth a try. If this service wasn't considered this time, Does not mean, we cant pursue this further. I must say, that this service can be abused by the public if the pharmacist does not challenge it. On the other hand, it can help a patient, when it is crucial, save time and resources of the surgery. Overall, I have found the service, very rewarding. As for its commissioning in the future, Lets watch space!

Brian Austen, Senior Management

ALL pharmacy representative organisations should now publicise to patients what a short-sighted decision this is. If NHS England were serious about offering patients an alternative to patients seeing a GP or Nurse for every injury, illness or ailment they would commission a national minor ailment service. Pharmacy must lobby whoever has influence, including patient organisations to make NHS England, ministers and MPs see sense. They need to show how much this could improve patient access to professional care while at the same time saving time for GPs and saving the NHS money. I presume PSNC will just rollover!

Mohamed Mohamed, Locum pharmacist

I'm glad this service is being abandoned. It was mostly abused by the public anyway. You can't have everything in life for free.

Pharmacy HLP, Manager

However valuable and seriously clinical the flu vaccination service is, minor ailment schemes done properly and with correct oversight are the natural successor of community pharmacy management of patients. There are 12000 plus outlets ,trained staff and now the possibility of 2nd pharmacist to help manage flow and look after unmanaged costly demand that no other part of the NHS can or frankly wants to look after. There was little misuse of all the direct services that pharmacy offer such as morning after pill, SSS, . What ever there is show more that people need help than they want to blag a packet of paracetamol. Get back to the negotiating table and show them the evidence.

Z ZZzzzz, Information Technology

eMAS is what is required. In Scotland that stopped the abuse of the system that is so prevalent in any area of England that adopted a paperbased MAS. I wish England would stop trying to reinvent the wheel.

Gerry Diamond, Primary care pharmacist

I think a national scheme won't happen, not because of DH negotiating problems but simply because devolution of powers to NHS regions such as Greater Manchester maybe the new route to get this service spread around the country.

Brian Austen, Senior Management

The House of Lords has tabled an amendment to the government's healthcare devolution plan requiring national standards of care to be maintained.

Stephen Eggleston, Community pharmacist

Just wait for the winter pressures/lack of GP appointments etc etc - I think all we need is a flu season such as when bird flu was around and NHSE will be kicking themselves

Gareth Rowe, Community pharmacist

Any thoughts of getting in touch with the RCGPs to get them on side? Surely they would welcome a service where they don't have to see patients with a cold/athletes foot/upset tummy/thrush etc?? We're piloting a service in Wales, if ours gets off the ground maybe England will follow

Farmer Cyst, Community pharmacist

The biggest issue I see to this is abuse - we all know this goes on with G.Ps. People ticking JSA with a prescription for 32 Paracetamol etc, but minor ailments in Pharmacy (where it's available) appears to be a bit of a free for all. I have lost count of the number of times patients have asked for 'A list of all the things they could have on the minor ailments' (presumably so they could go and check some 'For sale in XXXX Facebook group'). Counter staff invariably fill out forms for pretty much anything the patient asks for (almost always for multiple children who aren't present). You've got an army of patients (lets face it, customers) who aren't used to being told 'No' by the Pharmacy, and use us to hide behind so they don't have to talk to the scary G.P receptionists. Pharmacy also has a massive layer of non-Pharmacist area managers whose idea of 'management' is endless phonecalls enquiring about numbers of x,y,z service delivered today, and who would not look too kindly to Pharmacists saying no to someone clearly abusing the scheme if the branch would ultimately have made the money. If this is going to work, Pharmacy is going to have to toughen up, and the managers who used to run a KFC need to butt out of areas that they know absolutely fuck all about, and who are not held accountable at all for the decisions they quite often blackmail Pharmacists into making.

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