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Mowat: I know community and GP pharmacists aren't same thing

David Mowat: There's nothing I can say to reverse the cuts

Pharmacy minister David Mowat has insisted the government "fully understands" the difference between community and GP pharmacists.

“I don’t regard [putting more pharmacists into GP surgeries] as competing with the services that you can offer,” he told delegates at the local pharmaceutical committee (LPC) conference yesterday (November 2).

Mr Mowat was responding to a speech by Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) chief executive Sue Sharpe, who said the government's continued references to employing more pharmacists in general practice – while attempting to justify its cut to the sector's funding  – reveals its “confusion” about the two roles.

Ms Sharpe was met with cheers from the audience when she said: “They are not the same and they do not do the same job.”

Mr Mowat said the government “fully understands the difference between pharmacists working in GP practices and in the community pharmacy network”.

“Bruised and betrayed”

Ms Sharpe introduced the LPC delegates to the minister as representatives of a “sector that feels bruised, betrayed and badly let down”.

Mr Mowat said the description was “fair”, but stressed “we had to do, what we had to do” as part of making the NHS's £22 billion efficiency savings.

“There is nothing I can say to reverse [the cuts],” Mr Mowat told delegates. But he added he is “committed to work[ing] with the sector” to explore the "awful lot of potential" to work with "care homes, medicine reviews and be more influential on long-term conditions".

Meanwhile, the mention of chief pharmaceutical officer Keith Ridge’s name was met with boos from delegates, as Mr Mowat mentioned NHS England's ongoing review into pharmacy services.

“We have moved ahead,” Mr Mowat promised, outlining the forthcoming quality payments scheme, pharmacy integration fund and recent “near miss review” fund – which will allow pharmacies to see if they are still eligible for financial protection from the cuts.

Work with CCGs

The pharmacy minister also told delegates that they will have to create “natural relationships” with clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) to achieve a more service-based funding model in future.

He acknowledged the sector’s preference for a national minor ailments service “rather than CCG by CCG”, and agreed that “some CCGs are easier to work with than others”.

“It would be much easier if everything was commissioned centrally by the Department of Health or NHS England, but that isn’t the reality and CCGs are the fundamental commissioning block within the NHS,” he stressed.

Improving relationships with PSNC

Ms Sharpe described the negotiation process – after which PSNC rejected the government's funding proposals – as "the worst we have ever experienced". 

Mr Mowat said he needs to "get back the relationship" with PSNC, and concluded: “It is very easy for me to talk about what I am going to do.

"I hope in a year I will be able to talk to you more about the tangible results we have achieved.”

What do you make of Mr Mowat's comments?

Simon MEDLEY, Community pharmacist

'' “It would be much easier if everything was commissioned centrally by the Department of Health or NHS England, but that isn’t the reality ''

so  govt minister admits that the Health and social care act''   is stupid and leads to a fragmentation of health care  ?  surely not

Ben Merriman, Community pharmacist

Is Mr Mowat aware of the damage this blunt and indiscriminate cut will cause to both communities and patients?  I have no problem with innovation and I have no problem with efficiency when it is reasonable and responsible.  But this cut is a jet powered sledgehammer to crack an egg.  

Why not let CCGs and local councils examine where there is an over povision of pharmaceutical services?  They would be able to take in to account pockets of deprivation, areas of multiculturalism, specific needs of specific populations rather than presuming that all pharmacies remotely near another are excessive therefore must be cut.

To me, the Pharmacy Access Scheme looks like it's been created by an IT work experience student: "Right, I want you to list every pharmacy in the country in a spreadsheet, filter out any pharmacy dispensing more than 109,012 items a year and any pharmacy less than one mile away from another using Google Maps then you can go for some lunch."  

To say to any community that will lose their only pharmacy that a distance selling pharmacy (DSP) is available completely devalues half of what we do.  Contrary to Simon Stevens' view on the sector, we do much more than simply "dole out" medicines.  Will a DSP be able to reassured a worried mother about a rash on her six month old son?  Or a confused lady about why she needs two different kinds of inhalers?  Or an elderly couple that don't have the internet?  The deaf gentleman down the road who relies on lip reading to communicate?  

Is this the best the government can come up with after more than ten months of chuntering, sorry, "spend(ing) the time... to make sure that we’re making the correct decision and that what we do is going to be right for you, for the NHS and for the public?"  

Sue Per, Locum pharmacist

Contrast the above scenario with the thousands of dosettes you prepare and deliver on seven day scripts!!!!. Whats so "pharmacy" or rewarding for doing that??. Was that the four year degree course for. There has to be a fundamental change, and pharmacy needs to become more "Clinical" to reflect our primary skills, and not a dispensing sweat shop. Need to move with the times

Barry Pharmacist, Community pharmacist

Sure he knows. Money is being taken from one to give to the other.

Mike Bereza, Community pharmacist

If you look at the history of pharmacy we have always survived for a number of reasons. Firstly, the doctor, as a profession, they need pharmacists to reduce their own liability of inevitable errors, we are their valuable second line of protection. Secondly, innovation. E-cigarettes, the incandescent light bulb, Coca Cola. Arguably Coca Cola did contain cocaine at the time which may have contributed to its success somewhat but it doesnt detract from the fact that pharmacists are here to stay because we provide a valuable contribution to society whether that be innovation, protection or just the fact that we offer free advice and health care on every high street in the country.

Jupo Patel, Production & Technical

You're either dreaming or cushioned by the fact you're making good money from your operations. Maybe both.

S Pessina, Pharmacist Director

Unfortunately Mike,times are changing and people would much prefer to have their medications arrive at their door ( a bit like Amazon ) , so its all automated and they don't have to go into a pharmacy , which is what the government and multiples are trying to hatch between them.

Joan Richardson, Locum pharmacist

Most of them don't want the hassle of ordering them either just expecting them to turn up on the doorstep as they run out of the last supply - it's a pipe dream expecting patients to take responsibilty for thier own health - welcome to the nanny state1

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